How Intermountain Healthcare integrated telehealth across its enterprise: 5 key insights

Since launching its telehealth pilot programs in 2013, Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare has expanded its virtual care program across its 25 hospitals and connected with 30 clinical partners.

During a March 30 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Amwell, Intermountain leaders discussed how they have grown the system's telehealth program to encompass more than 100 clinical programs with telehealth delivery workflows as well as the most successful strategies they have adopted along the way. 

The presenters were:

  • Brian Roundy, software engineering director at Intermountain Healthcare
  • Brian Wayling, development and technology executive director at Intermountain Healthcare
  • Tim Lovell, operations director of Connect Care at Intermountain Healthcare

Five key takeaways:

1. One of Intermountain's key principles for virtual care has been to always let clinical programs take the lead in using telehealth. "We never wanted to be in competition with those clinical programs," Mr. Wayling said. "In fact several programs, including infectious disease and stroke, have really embraced telehealth. At this point it's an integral part of their delivery."

2. Another key component of Intermountain's telehealth strategy has been keeping workflows simplified as much as possible and clinical care processes aligned with in-person care. To do this, the health system integrated its telehealth workflows into its Cerner EHR. "We wanted to ensure digital and in-person care models remained as close as possible and therefore the outcomes would remain identical and measurable against each other," Mr. Wayling said

3. As part of its goal of standardizing and minimizing technology across the health system, Intermountain implemented 1,200 telehealth TV kits across all its hospitals, which is about 12-15 times the number of telehealth carts it has deployed, Mr. Roundy said, adding that the TV kits are "the key piece of hardware and technology that Intermountain has embedded into its hospital rooms."

"Implementing these TV kits is not about retrofitting hospitals anymore – this is something that is baked into the design of a new building," he said. "When we go live with and launch a new hospital, the expectation is the telehealth is baked into these room kits as part of the planning to go live with that hospital, so it's really just become a foundational piece of hardware that is part of every room."

4. To create a seamless patient experience, Intermountain integrated telehealth into its consumer-facing app, My Health Plus, a single platform that allows patients to access resources such as the patient portal and payment platform as part of one application. IN 2019, The health system utilized the Amwell software development kit (SDK to integrate its telehealth platform into My Health Plus.

"The My Health Plus experience encapsulated a lot of our consumer-facing telehealth solution. This was done as part of one of the first phases of our build in 2019, which was to use the Amwell SDK – which was not only a web SDK, but an Android SDK and an IOS SDK – to really tightly embed that urgent care direct-to-consumer telehealth experience right inside our digital front door."

5. Establishing a tight alignment between operations and clinical employees within its telehealth program has been a crucial component of Intermountain's success. Mr. Roundy credits the health system's dedication to information systems and telehealth as a team as a main tenet of its overall strategy.

"We have a pretty unique arrangement from an information systems perspective with a core team that's been dedicated to support the telehealth group, but with ties back to the larger IT system so we don't feel like we're siloed or don't have the ability to reach out if there's additional expertise needed with some of the back-end teams that are part of our core IT group."

Click here to view the webinar presentation.

 

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