How Mature Is Your Virtual Care Program?

Vidyo Maturity ModelVirtual healthcare providers periodically assess various program metrics to understand their current state and maturity and benchmark them against peers and industry innovators. Vidyo has developed a model to help you assess the maturity of your virtual health program and guide your program to success.

The Virtual Care Maturity Model assessment tool will help you measure the scope and impact of your program relative to your industry peers and understand industry best practices and benchmarks. It will provide you with valuable insights to help you craft internal proposals to strategically expand your program and request resources for such growth.

Whether your facility is just starting out in virtual care or is a deeply embedded veteran, a maturity model is one key aspect of an evolving enterprise-wide virtual care strategy. If you haven’t assessed your virtual care program lately, our model will help you do so.

The assessment is based on four dimensions of virtual care: motivation, technology, reimbursement, and utilization. Your program’s maturity in each of these categories will range from non-active to embedded.

Once you have completed the assessment, determined your organization’s status, and benchmarked it against peers and innovators, you may decide to move to the next level of virtual care maturity.

There are four essential components to moving to the next level in your virtual care model:

  • Understand the current state of your organization.
  • Create a strategy for virtual care based on your organizational goals.
  • Implement a robust, repeatable process for deploying new virtual care programs.
  • Follow a methodical change-management program to encourage program adoption.

“Knowing your virtual healthcare program’s maturity makes it easier to move to the next level,” said Kathleen Thousand, Director of Clinical Services for Vidyo. “This assessment enables you to leverage that insight to advance your program.”

For more details and to get started assessing your program, please see our short-form maturity model. A member of our healthcare team will contact you after you’ve filled it out and guide you through a more in-depth assessment to measure the maturity of your virtual health program.

co-written by: Rakesh Mehta

Unconventional Uses for Telehealth

Telemedicine for VeterinariansHaving worked in telehealth for the last few years, I have many opinions on the good, the bad, and the ugly in the field. Although I’m new to Vidyo, the Healthcare Summit last November truly validated my choice to join the company. Vidyo has clearly made its mark in the healthcare space and continues to grow through innovation, creativity, and commitment to excellence.

During the unconference session, I was asked to facilitate a discussion on unconventional uses for telehealth. This was a “thinking outside the box” exercise where nothing was considered outlandish. We all know about the norms in telehealth, things like telestroke, tele-ICU, and telepsych, but we challenged conventional wisdom to see what we could come up with as a group. Here are the top five unconventional uses for telehealth and the rationale behind them:

Tele-PTA

As a parent, this one really resonated with me. Most PTA meetings are difficult to get to. They’re normally scheduled in the middle of the week, after a long day of work. After rushing home, taking the kids to practices, making dinner, and helping with homework, there is barely enough time to think, let alone drive to school and wait for some one-on-one time with your child’s teacher.

Imagine for a moment that your PTA meeting is virtual. Both you and your spouse can attend a private session with your child’s teacher at your mutual convenience. It would be a scheduled appointment, just like a doctor’s visit. The teacher can share your child’s latest test scores and bring up images of their assignments and pop quizzes. All of this could be one click away.

Tele-Weight Management

Our group really loved this idea because most people can identify with the daily grind of trying to lose weight. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a challenge, and a virtual coach could help people make healthy choices. With tele-weight management you could take your nutritionist to the grocery store. They could help you read labels and make better decisions. You could show them what’s in your cabinets and refrigerator, and they could suggest what you might want to throw away. When it’s time to exercise, your virtual trainer could encourage you to do one more lap or one more lift. The common theme here would be a multidisciplinary approach to a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep), all under the umbrella of tele-weight management. The possibilities are endless.

Tele-Veterinarian

Many veterinarians in rural areas are geographically challenged; it could take hours of road time just see their patients. Wouldn’t it be great if your vet could triage your dog, horse, or cow with tele-vet technology? Having grown up on a farm, I know all too well the importance of keeping your animals healthy. These animals are extended family members and in many cases a key part of your family’s income. Bringing the veterinarian out to your home every time there’s a problem is cost prohibitive. Many farmers rely on home remedies and only call the vet in emergencies. Tele-vet would be a low-cost way to bring animal care into your home.

Tele-Wellness and Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Checks

It was suggested that more frequent family check-ins spur greater compliance and result in fewer police visits. Because 82% of welfare recipients have smartphones, this would be a relatively easy program to initiate. It could simply be a downloadable app with scheduled e-visits at prearranged times. Through greater efficiencies this program would pay for itself, but the real benefit would be a unified family. It could prevent problems before they arise.

Tele-Alcohol Addiction

Support groups like AA help with addiction recovery and keep patients on track. If you have a loved one facing an addiction then you know that having access to support meetings at a moment’s notice is key. If there were a way to combine that support with the convenience of in-home visits, perhaps compliance would be greater. Not everyone agreed on this point, though. AA is a personal narrative, and it’s about sharing a connection with others, in person. But it might work for the individual, if not the overall group. Either way, it’s another unconventional use of telehealth.

There you have it. These were the top five unconventional uses of telehealth. What do you think? Let us know. We encourage you to offer your own ideas on unusual ways to use telehealth. Who knows? Your idea could become a reality.

Bridging IT and Clinical

IT and Clinicians working togetherAll along the continuum of care — from large health systems to rural home care — collaboration and cooperation among departments are critical for optimal patient outcomes. At Vidyo’s Healthcare Summit in Nashville this past October, leaders from clinical and IT departments candidly discussed their pain points and their requirements for success in high-demand, sometimes resource-strapped environments.

Leaders from both departments agreed that they’ve been working in quiet frustration (or have voiced their concerns within their departments) over deploying much-needed telehealth solutions throughout their healthcare enterprises. It was unanimous: Internal disconnects delay their common goal of positive patient outcomes.

Some of the causes:

  • Within IT there are territory issues; people are reluctant to share knowledge for fear of their jobs.
  • IT doesn’t invite clinical to the table early enough for proper adoption of initiatives, and visa-versa.
  • There is a lack of communication and understanding of proposed solutions.
  • Too much security prevents full usage of applications.

Possible solutions:

  • Collaborate via monthly meetings, with stakeholders sharing accountability and project management.
  • Invite clinical department staff to technology discussions.
  • Host team-building events that foster trust and communication.
  • Ensure that leaders take the initiative to drive communication to support technology adoption that results in successful patient outcomes.
  • Reward IT and clinical teams for successful technology implementations.

So, what’s on the horizon? Collaboration, project management, training. Task forces from IT and clinical must work together to deploy telehealth solutions throughout service lines that span the continuum of care.

Clinical is on the forefront of delivering patient care, while IT steps up to integrate telehealth solutions for ease of use and ensure enterprise-wide adoption of technologies. Teams working together, trusting one another, and focusing on positive outcomes for the patient will lead to success.

The Amazon.com of Healthcare: Monetizing Health Instead of Disease

IMAGINE

Imagine it’s Thanksgiving and you wake up at 2:45 a.m. to your toddler suffering from a fever, nausea, and a rash. You’re visiting relatives in a state far from home. What do you do? There are multiple scenarios, and the most costly, inefficient, and stressful option would be to find a 24-hour urgent care facility or emergency department at the local hospital.

Instead of that scenario, imagine it’s 2:50 a.m., just five minutes later. You open your laptop and  sign in to your healthcare marketplace account to log your child’s symptoms. This takes you to your primary care doctor’s 24/7 virtual office for a video consult by 3 a.m., only 15 minutes after you realized your child was sick. You consult with your family care physician, who then video conferences an emergency physician and a dermatologist, who collectively discuss and expertly diagnose the problem and come up with  the best treatment plan for your child.

Monetize Health

MONETIZING HEALTH

I was fortunate to lead a creative session on an innovative topic at the Vidyo Healthcare Summit’s unconference: “Creating an Open Marketplace for Consumers.” Today, Vidyo’s customers continue to move from fee-based to value-based care, but this shift has challenges and requires heavy investment in innovation. There’s a lot of opportunity to figure out how to monetize health — to invest in proactive healthcare tools and management to create a financial upside. It’s exciting to note that there are technology companies that have already created and are exploring the notion of an open marketplace for healthcare consumers.

Such a marketplace might look and feel like Amazon, where you could shop for your own healthcare or care for your family members based on location and need. Would you sign up and use this marketplace? What impact would it have on the entire healthcare ecosystem? Would access to this marketplace create better patient outcomes or cause unwanted risks — not only for the patient but also for the providers and local facilities?

Large health systems and smaller community hospitals are investing in video-enabled digital patient portals that provide access to patient records, including medical history, medications, and treatment plans, as well as educational tools and discussion forums. Additionally, there are hosts of wellness programs that connect community members to proactive healthcare.

As an example, one of the participants in this discussion is part of a wellness program in Ohio that collaborates with supermarkets, pharmacies, and restaurants to teach healthy shopping and eating habits. The program also provides basic health-monitoring activities like daily blood pressure checks. The result for this attendee is that he is no longer pre-diabetic. He saw a dramatic decrease in blood pressure, lost weight, and developed new lifelong eating habits that are shaping his ongoing healthy lifestyle.

For those who haven’t been seen at a hospital at any point along the care continuum, who aren’t currently proactive with their healthcare, or who aren’t connected to a community hospital investing in these portals or wellness programs, a healthcare marketplace supports the shift to monetize health and drive proactive care and wellness. Marketplace considerations might include:

  • Creating awareness: It’s been reported that up to 75% of urgent or emergency care is unnecessary and could have been managed differently*. This awareness could make bed management more efficient for community hospitals and allow more availability for urgent care treatment of appropriate patients.
  • Informing consumers about available healthcare options and providers: An online healthcare marketplace, listing providers, by specialty, available for appointment-based, in-person appointments or ad hoc, on-demand video consults, could drive business to a collaborative panel of specialists to manage each patient’s case and create referrals along the appropriate care pathway.
  • Supporting self-management of illness not requiring in-person care: Empowering consumers with alerts or calls to action that would prevent deterioration of health or complications to an existing condition. This could decrease readmission rates, which is a growing concern for hospitals and healthcare systems.
  • Purchasing products to support wellness: Consider a biometric scale that measures more than weight (water weight, bone mass, muscle density, heart rate) and the psychological and physical impact this might have on a 45-year-old man who lost his father to a heart attack at age 46. A whole host of biometric devices or mobile applications available in one marketplace could potentially drive down overall healthcare costs by streaming information to the appropriate care provider.

Just as Vidyo’s healthcare strategy continues to align with its customers’ telehealth initiatives, telehealth business models will evolve to meet consumer demand, including the demand for affordable, streamlined, and convenient healthcare.

The creation of a healthcare marketplace doesn’t mean the end of days of our talented care providers who work so hard to deliver care to their communities, nor does it increase risk; it means change. A healthcare marketplace creates educated, empowered consumers — either past or future patients — who will help shift the way in which care is delivered. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that we were banking in person at our local branch and carrying around paper files of our health records.

Imagine your loved ones being healthy more days than not. Imagine reading reports on the drop in cancer rates, obesity, diabetes, and mental-health-related disease. Imagine being able to proactively care and advocate for yourself, your children, your aging parent. Imagine one point of access to a wide variety of healthcare providers and tools, literally at your fingertips. Imagine getting care in the right place, by the right provider, at the right time. Imagine a new future.

*Kristi Henderson, VP Virtual Care & Innovation, Ascension Health – Texas. “Telehealth Failures & Secrets to Success.”  TFSS Conference 2016

Building Telemedicine Apps with vidyo.io, Part 3

In parts one and two of this blog series we reviewed the benefits of embedded video for telemedicine apps, and how to ensure their success. In part three, we’ll be diving into the specific advantages of vidyo.io.

What can you do with vidyo.io

How does vidyo.io help?

Now that you ready to get started on your embedded video project, how can vidyo.io help? Vidyo.io is a communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) offering from Vidyo that provides all of the necessary infrastructure, SDKs, and APIs necessary to build an app with video conferencing built-in. Using vidyo.io you can enrich your app with group video interactions that include voice, video, content sharing, and text chat capability.

Faster time to market

Vidyo.io provides everything needed to embed real-time video interactions into your telemedicine app, except for the developers. We have put a lot of effort into making vidyo.io easy to use so developers can rapidly integrate video into an app. In fact, the APIs are easy enough to use that a developer can have a working video chat client, for iOS or Android,  in a matter of minutes.

If you’re building an app for patients to access your service, you can’t dictate what type of device they use. They will use whatever type of device they have. Therefore it is important to support a wide variety of devices. Vidyo.io has SDKs for all major platforms including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and also WebRTC for browsers. We made sure that the APIs for each supported platform maintain consistency. A developer who learns the behavior of the API for a single platform can quickly apply that knowledge to all other supported platforms. The result: faster time to market with fewer bugs with cross platform support.

customize your app with vidyo.io

Customization and branding

The primary advantage of embedded video is an uninterrupted workflow. Users should not have to feel like they are leaving the telemedicine app in order to engage in a video conversation with the provider. With vidyo.io the developer decides what the video call looks like and where it resides within the app workflow. The video can carry virtually any look and feel or branding the developer wants to build.  Users of the app will not know they are using a Vidyo app, they just know they are having a conversation with their doctor.

Security

Secure communications are essential for telemedicine applications. Vidyo.io was built using strong 256-bit encryption to protect conversations between patient and provider. Since vidyo.io is only used for the video interaction portion of the telemedicine app, it does not handle any PHI at rest. The result is that you can build a HIPAA compliant telemedicine app using vidyo.io.

security for telehealth with vidyo.io

Reliability

One’s personal health is extremely important. Patients should not be interrupted in the middle of an important conversation. The vidyo.io service is built using Vidyo’s patented technology for delivering extremely reliable video conversations. It constantly assesses the quality of the connection and dynamically optimizes the video for best performance. The result is extremely reliable video without the broken picture experienced with other video services. This dynamic adaptation technology is essential for consumer facing telemedicine apps, with patients who use readily available, and often unreliable, network connections such as residential cable, WiFi, or even 4G.

How to get started?

Getting started with an embedded video project may seem intimidating. The best approach is to carefully map out the use case you are trying to build for. Try to limit the scope of the first version to the minimum viable feature set with the understanding there will be subsequent revisions. Then plan on building a proof of concept prototype to demonstrate with decision makers and stakeholders.

When you’re ready to build your proof of concept, have your developer sign up for a free account at vidyo.io. Developers will have access to documentation, reference applications, and sample code to help jumpstart your project. There is even a ready-to-use demo app available that requires no coding.

Building Telemedicine Apps with vidyo.io, Part 1
Building Telemedicine Apps with vidyo.io, Part 2

Technology, Telehealth, and Trust

In the late 1990s, I was selling technology, and the company I worked for decided to start offering video conferencing. The manufacturer we carried launched a marketing campaign around a use case in a neonatal intensive care unit that enabled parents to stay connected with their babies, even when they had to return home. The company called it “The Virtual Goodnight Kiss.” The program allowed Mom and Dad to sing lullabies, read stories, and talk to their baby in order to maintain a visual connection and fully bond with them during that critical early stage of life.

About that same time I started having my own kids, and I remember the “failure to bond” topic being top of mind. Without bonding, without establishing that intimate connection, the risk was high that the baby could go on to develop low self-esteem and emotional issues, and could fail to form the ability to trust. No pressure at all for a first-time parent!

That use case was my introduction to telehealth and it really hit home. Working with technology was great, but working with technology that enabled someone to build trust and had a meaningful impact on their life … well, that was different. It was completely intoxicating. I knew then that I wanted in.

Jenna Wallis Vidyo Healthcare Summit Unconference

Vidyo’s Jenna Walls participates in our Unconference session

Fast-forward a couple of decades. I’m attending an unconference session at Vidyo’s Healthcare Summit in Nashville. A group of us are in a breakout session, “Patient Community Empowerment,” exploring how to best structure peer support groups for patients struggling with chronic or behavioral health issues. The person leading this session had just quit smoking, and felt he would have benefited from virtual peer support while he was working on quitting. Earlier in the summit, he’d attended a  session on integrating contact centers with telehealth, and saw a powerful opportunity to build a virtual support community leveraging Vidyo’s technology.

Some of the telehealth practitioners in the unconference group shared examples of what had worked well in their own peer support programs, and, maybe more importantly, what had not. One example was a support group for parents of kids with ADHD. The group that met in person had an 80% attendance rate, while the virtual (video) group saw only 40% participation. The administrators were able to rule out technology problems as the issue, but they concluded there was one missing element: an initial connection of trust. They realized that a line of trust might have made the virtual group more open to participating and sharing with one another.

Another telehealth practitioner told the group he was concerned about ensuring enough access points to care for patient communities. He said, “Patients can be down the street from great facilities, but they still don’t access the care.” He went on to describe certain patient communities that would go all the way across town to seek treatment. Why? Because patients want to go to the care provider they have a trusted relationship with. A number of similar examples made it clear that putting telehealth solutions in place is sometimes just the tip of the iceberg. Telehealth isn’t the end, but rather just the beginning of empowering patient communities and establishing trust between patients and caregivers.

Nick Adkins Vidyo Healthcare Summit

Nick Adkins of pinksocks rallies the troops at Vidyo’s Unconference

During the general session at the unconference, we listened to Nick Adkins of #pinksocks fame describe his views on healthcare. If you’ve ever had a chance to hear Nick speak, you know that he and the pinksocks tribe are passionate about shared human connections. Nick believes we are “using technology not to disrupt but to improve. To bring the relationship back to what it should be … a shared moment in time.” I spent the drive home to St. Louis replaying the day in my head. There was a power in those conversations, and in the messages shared, and, full confession, it moved me.

By the end of my drive it had occurred to me that I was no longer in the technology business or the telehealth business. I was in the trust business, and I realized I was home.