How to turn virtual care into a broader digital health strategy — 4 takeaways

Virtual care has become a permanent fixture in care delivery. Now, hospitals and health systems must transition from implementing short-term solutions to figuring out how to make telemedicine part of their long-term plan.

During a January webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by eVisit, Ann Schnure, vice president of telemedicine operations at Addison, Texas-based Concentra, and Justin Miller, vice president of customer success at eVisit, discussed the changing landscape for telemedicine and shared their perspectives on choosing telemedicine solutions that meet organizations' long-term strategic goals.

Four takeaways:

  1. When it comes to solutions, simple isn't always best; configurability is key. Concentra, a major player in occupational care, found that many solutions it looked into before the company launched its virtual care platform in 2017 wouldn't serve their needs. Customizations were difficult and the company's requirements were not prioritized. "I call it sticking a square peg in a round hole because it wasn't set up to meet our needs," Ms. Schnure said. Mr. Miller agreed: "Every [solution provider's] program looks a little bit different." 


  1. The patient experience has to be high quality. COVID-19 transformed care and increased the emphasis on the patient experience. "In February of 2020, virtual care was seen as innovative. As of March of 2020, it wasn't innovative anymore, it was essential," Mr. Miller said.

However, while virtual care quickly became essential, the patient experience is still often less than ideal. Mr. Miller shared a personal anecdote, in which his own recent virtual care visit (not using eVisit) took him across five different platforms. Even he, as someone who works with virtual care platforms on a daily basis, found it extremely confusing. 

In contrast, Concentra's workflow, which previously took patients about 40 clicks to get through a virtual visit, has decreased to less than 10 clicks, on average. 


  1. The ad-hoc virtual care that many providers leaned on early in the pandemic is not sustainable. Concentra chose eVisit because it is able to simultaneously support hundreds of clinics, allow multi-party visits and improve patient access. The platform saves time and money, and with its analytics capabilities, is able to show return on investment and inform strategy. 


  1. The long view on virtual care: It's central and not an augmentation. Though rural access continues to be an issue, that aspect of the digital divide is shrinking and will continue to do so. "If you're not thinking about virtual care as it relates to having a whole digital health experience, then you are missing the boat . . . virtual care is part of the whole digital health experience for a patient," Ms. Schnure said.

Because virtual care is now a mainstay of care delivery, having the right partner that can meet an organization's needs is critical. It isn't just about a video connection, it's a central part of future strategy for providers.

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