Virtual Care Visits

Virtual Care: Which Vendors are Offering Enough?

A co-worker and I shared a laugh the other day about an ad by Chase Bank. It proclaimed to the world that Chase has a banking app. It didn't specify if the app had new features unique to the market, simply that they have an app you can use for mobile banking. We shook our heads because. well, that's nothing to brag about. “If a bank doesn’t offer an app by now,” he said, “then I’m not going to bank with them. It’s an expectation, not a competitive asset.”

We then noted that it won’t be long before provider organizations not offering a complete telehealth spread will be in a similar position. Virtual care remains fledgling today, will be the standard fare of tomorrow. Like a bank without mobile banking, the healthcare organization of the future will have to have virtual offerings or risk falling behind.

Visit Types

Virtual care, in some form, has been around for a while. Most provider organizations have some type of telespecialty program implemented. For instance, the average hospital has technology in place to have a quick, live-stream meeting with a remote neurologist to determine what should be done for a possible stroke patient. Telestroke functionality and similar programs make it easier for providers to give care. However, with value-based care sweeping the industry, provider organizations are realizing that they need to use telehealth to make it easier for the patients to seek care.

Just like bankers added phone services, online banking, ATMs, and apps when banking in person stopped fitting the bill, telehealth vendors are creating and honing additional visit types and functionality to attract and satisfy patients. In addition to more telespecialty options than ever, solutions for scheduled visits and on-demand visits are popping up throughout the market.

In some provider organizations, patients are no longer limited to scheduling in-person visits with their doctors. Instead, a patient can schedule a virtual visit. These visits are especially effective for post-surgery appointments and delivering primary care. And when an urgent problem appears? On-demand programs let patients connect virtually to a provider who can assess the situation and either provide the needed help or direct the patient to visit an ER or urgent care facility.

Vendors’ Offerings

With new technology comes new questions: What functionalities do the different telehealth vendors offer? How well are vendors satisfying their customers? How does integration come into play? KLAS decided, as usual, to get answers from our provider friends and then publish those insights. The Telehealth Virtual Care Platforms 2017 report details KLAS’ findings on nine of the market’s most popular telehealth vendors.

While most of the vendors offer functionality for more than one visit type, only three vendors—American Well, Avizia, and VSee—have validated customers using functionality for all three visit types. While American Well has the most validated users, who described the functionality as comprehensive and intuitive, the American Well platform’s ratings fell a little short. Several niche vendors, such as the telespecialty-focused InTouch Health, apparently excel in their targeted areas.

Few will be shocked to hear that Epic, the only EMR vendor with enough live customers using their telehealth capabilities to be included in KLAS’ report, is the only one of the report’s vendors to offer consistent, bidirectional integration. Most users of the other vendors’ tools complained of missing interfaces and sky-high integration costs.

Don’t Fall Behind

While virtual care tools still have plenty of room to improve, provider organizations can’t afford to wait for perfect platforms. Patients are looking for virtual care now, and providers who don’t begin honing and expanding their telehealth practices today may lose their places in the market tomorrow.

But what exactly can be done right now? KLAS has found that the most successful organizations are those with broad telehealth visions and a willingness to tell their vendors what they need to accomplish their goals. And the provider organizations that don’t currently have visions or know what to ask vendors?

Their peers offer a leg up in the specific details of KLAS’ Telehealth Virtual Care Platforms 2017 report. So, if you’re a provider leader, take the step and stay ahead with telehealth; your present and future patients will thank you.