Mar 13 2023
Patient-Centered Care

ATA2023: Balancing Patient and Provider Experiences in the Continuum of Care

What should healthcare organizations looking to improve the hybrid care model keep in mind for their virtual care experiences?

More patients prefer using telemedicine to get prescriptions and treat minor illnesses, according to a recent survey from digital health funding group Rock Health. Telehealth adoption also has seen significant increases in underserved communities, including uninsured and rural patients.

However, when it comes to health data sharing, building trust remains a challenge across the healthcare ecosystem. Still, patients are more willing to share their health information with clinicians than with insurance companies or pharmacies, according to the survey.

Telehealth is not a lesser mode of care, nor is it a “secondary service,” said Dr. Joseph Kvedar, professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and immediate past board chair of the American Telemedicine Association, during a keynote address at the 2023 ATA Conference and Expo in San Antonio. However, he said, providers need to do their part to build trust and exhibit professionalism in this field.

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At times, telehealth has been viewed as a revenue generator instead of a mode of care delivery, Kvedar said, and that has led to missteps. Clinicians need to fully shed the belief that a virtually accessible service is somehow less formal than an in-person visit. “We are cheapening our own field by doing this,” he said.

As providers strive to deliver patient-centered care on a continuum, telehealth is making its mark as a vital part of a seamless hybrid care model. As programs emerge and extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations must balance the experiences of clinicians and patients.

Provide High-Quality Remote Monitoring Services

Remote monitoring is one aspect of virtual care that has seen significant gains in the past few years through reimbursement changes and policy updates. A deep dive during day one of ATA2023 outlined the history of remote monitoring, current policies and experiences from healthcare organizations.

“The goal behind care management services in general, including remote monitoring, is really to provide a much more continuous touch for patients who really need it in between their regular physician or office visits,” said Carrie Nixon, managing partner of Nixon Gwilt Law.

ATA2023 Session

Speaker Carrie Nixon, Managing Partner at Nixon Gwilt Law, discusses the history of remote monitoring over the past decade at ATA2023. Photo by Teta Alim

At this juncture, healthcare organizations want to move from disparate point solutions toward solutions that are aggregating services together, Nixon said.

Leslie Krigstein, vice president of communications and government affairs at digital health company Transcarent, added that now is the time to build the foundation to transition to value-based care.

“As remote monitoring can be a really great glide path to value-based care, it’s still really important that half of our physicians are still in fee-for-service. So, we have to be very mindful of the fee-for-service codes and how they’re being reimbursed and the challenges that physicians are facing, and not just say, ‘Value-based care will take care of that,’” she said.

During the next session, a panel of representatives from traditional healthcare organizations and companies discussed making sense of a crowded market and deploying remote monitoring programs.

“Before you get to the RFP point, really make sure you’re aligning what you want to do with your system’s strategy at the very top level,” said Dr. Sarah Pletcher, system vice president and executive medical director for strategic innovation at Houston Methodist. “It’s really easy to get pulled into, ‘Well, this group of docs wants to do this thing,’ or, ‘A survey came out,’ or ‘How can we address this?’ But at the very top level, it has to be, ‘Who is your system and what are they about and where are they going?’ And try to map a strategy that fits that. To start with the RFP search, I think, risks not aligning what you’re trying to do with the highest strategy of your organization.”

Iris Berman, vice president of telehealth services at Northwell Health, echoed the need for a strategic approach to ensure that “we’re not siloed into one particular type of technology, because it’s constantly changing. So, it needs to be an open platform.”

ATA2023 Panel

Panel participants discuss their experiences with remote monitoring strategies. From left to right: Moderators Greg Fulton, Industry and Public Policy Lead, Philips Population Health Management, and Bill Paschall, Senior Vice President of Growth and Strategic Accounts, Clear Arch Health, with speakers Rodney Plunkett, Vice President of Population Health Management, CommonSpirit Health at Home; Ryan Fox, Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Success, AMC Health; Iris Berman, Vice President of Telehealth Services, Northwell Health; and Dr. Sarah Pletcher, System Vice President and Executive Medical Director for Strategic Innovation, Houston Methodist. Photo by Teta Alim

Improving workflow is key. “The design of the program isn’t just about how to handle the data. It’s about how the data is delivered to the provider, and then feedback out to the patient,” she added.

Rodney Plunkett, vice president of population health management at CommonSpirit Health at Home, stressed the importance of partnerships, not just vendors, when scaling remote monitoring programs.

Supporting Clinicians While Expanding Healthcare Access for Patients

Jennifer Doorly Magaziner, vice president of digital health at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Mary Mulcare, chief medical officer at virtual specialty care company Summus, spoke to HealthTech ahead of their ATA2023 session.

“We’ve created flexibility for everybody else. It’s time clinicians had a little more flexibility,” Magaziner said.

Boston Children’s Hospital and Summus have partnered to scale the health system’s pediatric virtual care offerings and support its remote second opinion program. “We built the muscle on how to practice this sort of specialty care virtually,” Magaziner said. Now, the team is focused on ensuring the best clinical experience for physicians.

Through the partnership, she added, clinicians will find valuable peer-to-peer connections. They can also focus on the patient care interaction while administrative burdens are alleviated, analytics are improved and the user experience is streamlined.

“Allowing physicians to expand the types of interactions they have with patients is really going to help now and going forward from a burnout factor,” Mulcare said about the virtual care benefits for clinicians. “There are all these different pieces, but the biggest challenge is getting them to function together.”

ATA2023 session

Speakers discuss virtual care in the ATA2023 session “Delivering Next-level Specialty Care to Support Clinicians and Strengthen Patient Relationships.” From left to right: Dr. Mary Mulcare, Chief Medical Officer, Summus; Jennifer Doorly Magaziner, Vice President of Digital Health, Boston Children's Hospital; and Dr. Alexander Fortenko, Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine. Photo by Teta Alim

For patients, they can find support earlier in their care journey and reduce the stress of searching for different specialists.

“As all these digital channels give us more insights, there’s a process team structure to turn data from insights to action,” Magaziner said. “Any new digital health innovation you launch in a health system will illuminate broader operational opportunity areas.” 

Healthcare organizations looking to lay the foundation for the future of care delivery, such as a fully integrated hybrid care model, will need to make sure their approach to data modernizes.  

Keep this page bookmarked for our ongoing coverage of ATA2023. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthTechMag and join the conversation at #ATA2023.

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