By Bret Larsen, CEO & Co-Founder, eVisit & Juli Stover, Vice President of Virtual Health Strategies, Envision Health
Telemedicine has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the market is becoming more crowded. That makes for a lot of confusion. What factors should healthcare organizations consider as they compare platforms? Finding a good telehealth partner can be challenging, but we believe the No.1 factor is having a shared vision, along with a few other considerations, too.
During our very first meeting in 2019, it was obvious that we both saw the value in telehealth. We know it has the power to enhance the delivery of care by providing patients with the right care in the right location at the right time. However, telehealth is more than a technology platform or two-way video system; it’s a strategic, innovative approach to deliver high-quality care to people wherever they are.
A shared vision is the key to the successful partnership between our two organizations. As a national medical group, Envision Healthcare delivers care when and where it’s needed most. The group’s clinicians care for more than 32 million patients in hospitals and outpatient facilities in communities across the U.S. eVisit began its first engagement with Envision in Nov. 2020 with the launch of Envision’s emergency department Transitional Care program, a virtual care solution for patients in the Dallas metro area who have been discharged from the hospital and need follow-up care.
As we’ve developed solutions to support the delivery of patient care, we have hit our share of challenges, but our shared vision always serves as our North Star.
Here are our tips for any healthcare leader conducting a telehealth evaluation and selection process.
#1 – Share a Vision
Your telehealth partner’s vision is important because it influences everything about the way they design, execute and deliver their product. When you’re vetting potential telehealth partners, ask questions about their vision and mission and make sure their answers align with yours. This can help ensure that your telehealth platform will serve your organization and patients for years to come.
#2 – Ensure Your Partner Enables YOUR Strategy
Healthcare organizations around the country are working toward the same outcomes, but their strategies and processes vary. It’s important for a telehealth vendor to learn your organization’s telehealth priorities, understand your strengths and opportunities for improvement, and bring a holistic approach to delivering a solution that enables your strategy and needs.
The eVisit platform is technically sophisticated, but that wasn’t the most important aspect for virtual health leaders at Envision. In addition to being a technology SaaS provider, eVisit showed up as a virtual care strategy team and approached things from a clinical and programmatic standpoint. After all, virtual care is about the delivery of care and not necessarily the technology. Our eVisit team took time to understand Envision’s goals and priorities.
#3 – Look for Flexible Workflows
Designing a telehealth solution for any healthcare company is a complex endeavor. Your telehealth partner should be able to support all of your different clinical workflow needs, environments, populations and systems from a technical standpoint. This means understanding your existing workflows and thinking through every step of a patient’s journey – from scheduling a visit to paying a bill. Each step must integrate with the next, and customization is key.
#4 – Watch for Competing Networks
Many telehealth vendors come with their own provider networks. This can mean that your providers have to compete with the providers on the platform. These “outside” providers may be licensed in your state, but not located in your state or in your network. They won’t necessarily be familiar with local resources. If a patient needs follow-up care, such as testing, imaging or an in-person visit, that knowledge gap can cause disruptions in the care continuum.
The eVisit platform doesn’t have a provider network and it never will. One of its founding tenants is to enable virtual care for locally relevant health systems and their provider network. As part of eVisit’s product design process, the team spent months shadowing providers to see how they deliver care to ensure that the eVisit platform can mirror the experience providers offer in person.
#5 – Declare Ease of Use
Those are simple words, but they mean so much! The telehealth platform you use should be intuitive and easy to navigate.
eVisit’s app works well on mobile devices and patient ratings average 4.8 out of 5 stars. When you’re evaluating telehealth platforms, ask detailed questions like, “How many clicks does it take to get into a virtual visit?” and “What do providers find the most difficult about your technology?” Everyone needs to feel comfortable using telehealth technology.
#6 – Seek Complete Technical Support
Once your new telehealth platform goes live, strong technical support is essential — not just for providers but for patients as well. You’ll want a team of technology platform experts who are readily available to trouble-shoot challenges faced by providers AND patients.
#7 – Ask Meaningful Questions
Take your time and do your due diligence to find the right telehealth partner. You should be prepared to ask questions about everything from vision and values to waiting room management and e-prescribing capabilities. A worthy telehealth candidate will be eager to answer your questions and find solutions that work for you, your providers, and your patients. The telehealth vendor should also ask you several questions about your priorities, needs, and goals.
Learn more from the Gartner 2020 Market Guide for Virtual Care Solutions, in which eVisit is a Representative Vendor. Get your complimentary guide here.
Learn more about Envision’s emergency department Transitional Care program here.
To learn more about the eVisit Virtual Care solution and our consultative approach to helping the nation’s largest healthcare organizations establish an enterprise-wide virtual care offering, schedule a demo below.