Lay Out a Roadmap to Ensure Patient and Caregiver Needs Are Met
The majority of organizations that are already running a successful and effective virtual care program, Schwyn said, are really looking at the continuum of care and not treating their program as a temporary solution.
“Virtual is the way of the future, not just a necessity for the pandemic,” he said. “The areas of focus should really be to build a sustainable model by understanding where that future is.”
One organization that’s taken such an approach is Franciscan Health. Charles Wagner, senior vice president and CIO for the organization, shared that Franciscan was, in fact, well positioned for their COVID response due to their methodical approach to implementing their virtual care model back in 2018.
“We went through and prioritized those strategies and those functions that would provide the most impact for our patients,” said Wagner. “We ended up with about six key strategic focus areas, and the result of that work helped us to lay out a roadmap.”
Wagner and his team continue to home in on those key strategic focus areas even now, using them to measure things like new patient volume brought to Franciscan or the number of remote patient monitoring devices deployed each quarter. This has helped the team to get continued investments and buy-in that they need to expand the program. So far, Wagner added, the results are paying off.
“A virtual-first strategy is key to our success,” he said, “and our ability to deliver better care at a more affordable cost.”
Telehealth Integration and Interoperability Prove Vital
One frustration that’s commonly emerged around this massive adoption of virtual care is the need for patients and providers to access multiple platforms.
Daniel Eisenman, a senior director for sales engineering at Amwell, called out this problem at CHIME20, noting that ease of use is ultimately what will determine whether a patient has a successful virtual visit or not. Interoperability of healthcare systems, he added, is where IT teams should focus their efforts.
“What really becomes the most important factor for improving ease of use comes down to integration,” he said. “For physicians, being able to start a visit directly from the patient’s chart is a big benefit — they’re not having to log in to multiple systems, remember multiple names and passwords.”
“It’s a similar story for patients,” Eisenman added. “It can be as simple as the flip of a switch to turn on visits within the patient portal.”