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Telehealth: Which Vendors Can Help You Succeed?

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Bret Sharp, Research Director, KLAS

In the first segment of this two-part series, Mark Allphin talked about the potential upside of telehealth, as well as the major challenges, including misaligned financial incentives, logistics, and questions about utilization and value.

Maybe you see the challenge as an opportunity. Maybe you think telehealth is worth it. If so, you’re not alone.

While adoption isn’t widespread and movement is slow, our research shows that telehealth is happening. Despite the significant barriers, providers are engaging with vendors and offering virtual care to patients. There is excitement about the potential of telehealth, and providers are passionate about new avenues of improving healthcare.

As is common in a newer market, there are a lot of vendors doing a lot of different things. For our upcoming report, we spoke only to providers using virtual care platforms, which are software platforms used by providers to facilitate virtual video visits. These solutions, at minimum, facilitate the use of video conferencing technology to connect at least a two-party combination of providers and/or patients. Ideally, they also facilitate clinical documentation and other aspects of the care workflow, either independent of or integrated with an EMR.

Now for some perspective: for this subset of telehealth solutions alone, we spoke to providers about a dozen different vendors and validated around 20 others. That’s a lot of options. This doesn’t even include physician network services, remote patient monitoring, and other types of telehealth activity.

So where can provider organizations begin when they want to offer their own virtual video visits? Well, that depends on the type of visits they are hoping to support. In our conversations with providers, we heard about three major video visit types for virtual care.

The first is scheduled/patient-focused visits. These are scheduled, interactive visits where a patient speaks with a healthcare provider — and that can be a PCP or a specialist. In this area, American Well is being utilized the most by the providers we spoke to. Epic customers are also using their vendor’s video-visit capabilities for scheduled virtual visits.

The next use case is on-demand or consumer-focused visits. These are typically unscheduled and initiated by the patient for an immediate medical need. Some vendors being used for this type of visit also offer supplemental physician network services — in these cases, the vendor offers a network of providers who handle times of high demand or work after hours so that the organization doesn’t have to hire additional staff. American Well is a major player in the area of on-demand/consumer-focused visits. Carena and Zipnosis are examples of other vendors also being used in this area.

The last use case is the most commonly validated in our research: telespecialty consultation visits. These types of visits allow a provider inside a clinic or hospital to bring in a remote specialist, regardless of whether the patient is present on one end, and the two providers are able to connect and coordinate care. Telestroke and telepsychiatry consults are most common. InTouch Health is used exclusively for telespecialty consults by the customers we spoke to. Other vendors in this area include Avizia, swyMed, TruClinic, and VSee.

All of these insights have come about as a result of our upcoming telehealth report. We’ve learned a lot as we’ve moved forward in researching this space, and we’re excited to share more of our knowledge with the industry at large.

This piece, written by Research Director Bret Sharp, is the second in a two-part blog series focusing on telehealth. For more information about KLAS, click here. To follow KLAS on Twitter, click here.

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