Aligning EHR and telehealth strategy for success: American Well's customer solutions president

To boost telehealth adoption among physicians, American Well's Customer Solutions President Mike Baird says hospitals and health systems should align it more closely with the EHR.

In May, American Well partnered with Epic to integrate its virtual care platform with the EHR software, a move that allowed providers to begin conducting telehealth appointments directly through the patient chart. Now, with the recent addition of its new telehealth patient app, patients can make telehealth appointments directly within Epic's patient portal MyChart.   

By partnering with Epic, American Well aims to help hospitals and health systems more easily integrate telehealth into their overall care and patient engagement strategies, specifically their EHR workflow, Mr. Baird said.

Mr. Baird joined American Well last year after the company acquired telehealth provider Avizia, where Mr. Baird served as co-founder and CEO. Here, he discusses American Well's partnership with Epic and why combining telehealth and the EHR can help improve workflows.  

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: American Well's telehealth patient app is now available in Epic's App Orchard. How should hospitals think about their EHR alongside their current or future telehealth strategy?

Mike Baird: While EHR integration can be difficult, having the App Orchard app will streamline this process and lower the time and resources required for integration. Hospitals and care organizations of all sizes need to think about their EHR and telehealth strategy as being completely intertwined to ensure provider workflow is intuitive, documentation is easy and comprehensive, clinical notes can be easily accessed and shared and care coordination can happen across care teams. When an organization's telehealth strategy aligns with and complements the EHR, it can lead to increased adoption due to simplified workflows and enhanced physician adoption.

Q: What are some factors hospital and health system decision-makers should consider when selecting a telehealth partner?

MB: The breadth of offering is important. Telehealth partners that offer a wide range of applications spanning acute and urgent care needs, as well as inpatient and outpatient services, will be able to grow and scale with you and in line with your patients' needs.

Technology delivery is also critical — hospitals and health systems should assess the depth of resources dedicated to ongoing development and innovation combined with a track record of platform stability, product quality and even patient volume. Strong delivery support is another key consideration. Support and overall partnership should begin leading into implementation and training and continue throughout the entire engagement.

Q: What trends are you seeing among hospitals and health systems related to telehealth?

MB: Right now, we're seeing a major shift to ubiquity. Telehealth is no longer just being used to treat strokes in hospitals and sore throats at home, but it's being embedded into every hospital room, clinic, school and patient facing app for a variety of use cases.

There's also an intentional cannibalization trend that's happening where forward-thinking hospitals are realizing that they need to invest in telehealth and move ahead in the experience curve, otherwise they will fall behind their competitors — or be at risk of being 'Uber-ed.' Another trend that we're seeing is that innovative health systems are setting strategic goals and rewarding success when it comes to the shift toward telehealth.

Q: How do you expect telehealth technology to evolve in the next three to five years?

MB: I expect telehealth technology to simply be more. There will be more features embedded into telehealth platforms like artificial intelligence, remote patient monitoring and more devices from which patients can see a physician or a physician can consult with a physician(s).

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at jdrees@beckershealthcare.com.

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