eVisit’s role as a participant in AWS’ global health equity program provided me with the exciting opportunity to serve as a panelist at this year’s AWS Summit held last month in Washington, DC.
During the panel session titled Advancing Global Health Equity Through Technology, I presented alongside other AWS health equity program partners to outline our collective efforts to increase access to healthcare services in underserved communities, reduce disparities by addressing social determinants of health (SDoH), and leverage data to promote equitable systems of care.
eVisit’s AWS-funded initiative is focused on expanding telehealth services in rural emergency response settings in participation with Medicare’s Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) programs. In partnership with a national medical provider group and leading emergency transportation service, we’re equipping ambulances with tablet devices preloaded with the eVisit Virtual Care Platform.
These tablets allow Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to facilitate live, on-site, telehealth visits between patients who called 911 and Emergency Department (ED) physicians. This new, innovative medical approach has the potential to enhance the delivery of healthcare to underserved patients while reducing the costs of unnecessary trips to the ED for treatment in cases where other care settings are deemed to be more appropriate.
Health equity initiative embodies Quadruple Aim
I’m thrilled about eVisit’s involvement in the AWS health equity program because I believe the initiative delivers on every component of healthcare’s Quadruple Aim – improving the patient experience; enhancing the clinical workflow to address the well-being of healthcare teams; driving better outcomes/enhancing population health, and lowering costs.
Improved patient experience – The AWS health equity program and our ET3 initiative are, first and foremost, focused on the patient. Its overarching goal is to improve every patient’s access to quality care when and where they need it. Oftentimes, patients in rural areas with limited access to transportation have no other option than to call 911 even if their condition isn’t an actual emergency (e.g., X-rays, stitches, etc.). The ET3 program empowers EMTs to provide the most appropriate care for each individual patient, eliminating unnecessary and unwanted trips to the ED. This initiative truly delivers patient-centered care that improves the overall care experience.
Improved clinical experience – Our ET3 initiative also aims to improve the clinical experience by allowing EMTs to practice at the top of their licenses. Rather than serving as a transportation provider to the ED, our ET3 virtual care solution allows EMTs to leverage their full training and make appropriate care determinations about a patient at the point of an emergency. The EMT can assess the situation and the patient’s condition and determine if an ED visit is warranted or if an urgent care visit or remote telehealth visit with a physician is more appropriate. Moreover, these EMTs can make this decision without fear of it impacting their reimbursement as in the past, taking the patient to the ED was the only way to receive payment. Empowering EMTs in this manner can also reduce patient flow into the ED, allowing ED clinicians to focus on patients with more acute conditions that truly require emergency treatment.
Lower costs – Appropriate utilization of services results in lower healthcare costs. It is widely known that the ER is the costliest setting in which to deliver care. In fact, data from UnitedHealth Group shows that the average cost of primary care-treatable conditions treated in an ED setting cost $2,032, compared to $193 at an urgent care center and $167 at a physician’s office. These “avoidable” ED visits add $32 billion in costs to the healthcare system each year. By reducing unnecessary trips to the ED, and the associated hospital admissions and readmissions, the overall cost of care can be dramatically decreased.
Better outcomes – eVisit’s ET3 initiative also helps drive system efficiencies that improve patient outcomes and overall population health. For example, by reducing ambulance trips to the ED or to transfer facilities, the program helps ensure that more ambulances are in rotation to serve the patients that need them. Delays in emergency response in rural, underserved communities can often lead to medical complications. Reducing these occurrences has a positive impact on the ultimate patient outcome.
While COVID-19 served as a catalyst for telehealth adoption in the U.S., health equity initiatives and a commitment to value-based care will continue to propel the use of the technology going forward, particularly as part of a hybrid care delivery methodology.
The AWS Summit enlightened me not only to the contributions virtual care is making to close the health equity gaps, but also how other technology companies are leveraging data, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more to enhance health equity, improve patient outcomes, and ultimately, save lives. I was impressed with all the panelists’ exciting advances, especially the company Gaggle which develops AI-enabled software for school-issued computers. Gaggle’s solution is helping school officials and local law enforcement know when a child is searching for or creating dangerous content. Founder and CEO Jeff Patterson shared stories of how the software triggered life-saving responses for children at risk of suicide. Others on the panel are helping with important international efforts such as cancer and HIV treatment in third-world countries such as Rwanda.
I invite you to watch the full recording of my panel discussion here: