Telehealth always has been a key pillar of technology-enabled care delivery, helping hospitals, health systems and group practices deliver quality care at a distance – while also often gaining efficiencies, improving patient and provider satisfaction and saving costs.
But as 2020 unfolds, with the COVID-19 pandemic severely testing health system capacity, telehealth is stepping up. Virtual care and remote monitoring have never before been in the spotlight like they are today.
As federal officials remove many of the regulatory and reimbursement barriers that have hindered more widespread telehealth adoption in the past, providers nationwide are using new technologies to deliver care amid social distancing efforts to prevent coronavirus spread. Some vendors are even giving away products and services for free.
Here’s a selection of just some of the many telehealth vendors out there, along with descriptions of their offerings, for healthcare organizations who might want to make use of the technology during this unprecedented time. Check back for additions in the days and weeks ahead.
Amwell – known until recently as American Well – has been a telehealth leader for nearly 15 years. It offers one system for telemedicine that spans the care continuum from urgent to acute care, equipping clinicians, patients and the industry that supports them with tools to enhance the healthcare experience.
Amwell’s Home line offers healthcare organizations tools and technologies needed to provide a white-labeled telehealth offering to their patients. Patients can connect with the first available provider or the provider of their choosing, as well as schedule a consultation for the day and time that works best for them, using their preferred device: web, mobile, telephone or kiosk. All of these are white labeled so healthcare organizations can ensure their trusted brand remains front and center.
Amwell offers a suite of APIs, web services and SDKs to seamlessly embed telehealth into an organization’s existing digital assets, such as Cerner, Epic and other EHRs, to enable providers to work directly in the EHR for a streamlined experience. Clinical coverage is available from Amwell’s telehealth medical group, Amwell Medical Group (which provides 24/7/365 national coverage), an organization’s provider network, or a combination of both.
Amwell Hospital aims to connect and expand existing clinical resources, by providing technology to support provider-to-provider use-cases. These modules can span many specialties such as stroke, acute behavioral health, cardiology, pediatrics and more, all while consolidated into a single, scalable infrastructure. Specialty providers extend their reach to treat patients while operationalizing the availability of providers and staff to fulfill on-demand and/or scheduled encounters, regardless of the physical location of the participants.
Organizations can choose to leverage Amwell’s telemedicine carts or their existing investments in hardware and connected peripheral devices to integrate with the Hospital system to create an immersive virtual care experience.
Additionally, specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amwell offers technology for health systems designed to equip them with a ready-to-use platform staffed with their own providers or providers of the Amwell Medical Group and engagement materials to drive patient adoption as well as reporting on enrollments and utilization.
Catasys OnTrak is a telehealth-enabled program designed for health plan members with untreated behavioral health conditions, including anxiety, depression and substance use disorder, that exacerbate their chronic medical disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, CAD, COPD and others.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety levels are escalating across America, including among people with anxiety disorders that are exacerbating their co-existing chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Left untreated, behavioral health conditions will contribute to a major medical crisis for many, at a time when hospitals in every state are running out of beds and medical supplies. It will also cost health plans untold millions of dollars if they do not intervene to prevent these avoidable hospitalizations, the company said.
A number of health plans across the country use the Catasys OnTrak program to provide behavioral change coaching for members with multiple behavioral health and chronic medical conditions. The program is a hybrid model of a nationwide, fully staffed virtual network of care coaches combined with a credentialed, virtualized telehealth network of behavioral health providers.
Qualified members are identified by Catasys, as well, via the company’s AI-powered analytics. This helps health plans identify those members who would most benefit from targeted, sustained behavioral health coaching to improve their health and reduce the health plan’s medical costs.
Dialogue is an integrated virtual care clinic that provides bilingual telehealth services 24/7 across Canada. Dialogue’s multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals consists of nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, care coordinators and allied health professionals who all work together to deliver complete patient care.
Dialogue offers its patients a number of services including initial consultations, follow-up care, the ability to consult with the same professional, referrals and lab results, and prescriptions, creating a complete community of patient care.
Dialogue’s dedicated healthcare team follows up on each patient issue to ensure the proper resolution of their case. Even if a patient is referred to a conventional clinic because her case is beyond the scope of safe practice in virtual care, a Dialogue healthcare professional will follow up with the patient to ensure that she was properly cared for and satisfied with the service.
For more complex cases or longer illnesses, Dialogue patients have the option of scheduling appointments with the same practitioners.
Because the Dialogue model allows for scheduled appointments with the same professional that the member encountered previously, physicians can issue specialist referrals, order lab tests and review results with the patient when the reports become available.
Practitioners can assess patients to issue new prescriptions, and arrange delivery through the use of online pharmacies, when requested. Practitioners can also assist with sharing drug information, issuing long-term medication renewals, and making medication and dosage changes as necessary.
DrFirst’s telehealth system is part of its Backline care collaboration platform, which enables communications among clinicians, as well as between clinicians and patients.
Backline is designed for every healthcare setting, from large hospitals to small physician practices, and can be implemented quickly by facilities of any size and any number of users. This allows Backline to create a “hospital without walls,” enabling healthcare providers to extend their care to satellite settings or to triage patients, while protecting healthcare workers and other patients from potential exposure to, for example, the COVID-19 coronavirus.
It also allows healthcare providers to work remotely if they are quarantined but well enough to work. In addition to allowing hospitals, physician practices and EMS services to assess patients remotely to minimize COVID-19 exposure and avoid further overcrowding in emergency departments, Backline can also be used by physicians providing routine care for patients with chronic health conditions.
Backline allows physicians to turn any patient appointment into a telehealth session, sending patients a link to click on their mobile phone, tablet or computer. Patients do not need to download an app, access a patient portal or undergo a registration process.
Because Backline is a full care collaboration platform, it supports team-based care that goes beyond a single encounter, which is especially the case when treating patients with complex acute and chronic conditions. In hospitals, as well as ambulatory care, patient care typically involves different healthcare providers, such as specialists, nurses, technicians, therapists, pharmacists and others – all of whom must share information with each other and the patient.
Backline allows the team to communicate securely, with group patient-centered chats and the ability to complete and manage forms. Backline is used by clinicians in hospitals, physician practices, long-term care facilities, emergency medical services, hospices and pharmacies.
Vendor emocha, which offers a technology-enabled healthcare adherence service, leverages human engagement and video check-ins for patients with chronic and infectious diseases. Patients are able to video record themselves taking their prescribed medication via a mobile app, while providers or the vendor’s adherence coaches use a secure web portal to assess dose-by-dose adherence and engage with patients.
The technology not only enables patients more accessibility to take medication at their convenience, but also provides a clinical solution to ensure higher rates of adherence. The platform is being leveraged across the globe by public health departments, academic researchers, health systems and managed care organizations.
During the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, emocha announced it would provide remote monitoring and engagement services to identify and manage symptoms, reduce risk, prevent further exposures, and expand resources during the crisis.
This service is specifically focused on healthcare workers and at-risk employees exposed to COVID-19 – doctors, nurses and other caregivers on the frontlines. Users track their symptoms and temperature readings through a mobile app, while emocha’s team escalates those persons reporting a severe COVID-19 symptom to occupational health.
The technology of the vendor is engineered to provide health systems and hospitals with tangible support. It is designed to increase the capacity of hospitals while keeping healthcare workers safe and supported in a high-pressure situation. Through symptom and temperature reporting, occupational health can quickly identify symptomatic and asymptomatic employees, and better allocate resources during a crisis.
The Equality Health telehealth system for primary care practices is available for free to primary care practices in the extensive Equality Health network of independent primary care providers.
Independent primary care practices are dealing with two parallel developments in 2020 – appointment cancelations from patients scared they will be exposed to COVID-19, and a barrage of calls from patients worried they may have the virus.
In response, Equality Health, a whole health delivery system with clinical facilities and a large network of independent practices, is moving to protect patient health and provider revenue. The system is offering a telehealth solution, connectivity and technical support services at no cost to more than 1,300 Arizona-based primary care providers in the network to help them virtually triage sick patients and provide ongoing care to their entire patient population.
Patients can securely connect online, including in low-bandwidth environments, using their cell phone or computer. The tool is downloaded at no cost and is available to the practice’s entire population of patients. It is ideal for individuals who are at risk due to underlying health conditions or who struggle with access to care due to lack of transportation, socio economic issues or other barriers.
First Stop Health
First Stop Health provides non-emergency telemedicine for its members and their families for 24/7 nationwide use when minor ailments (colds, flu, rashes, sore throats, infections, etc.) arise. The company’s services are sold exclusively to employers, usually through their brokers and benefit advisors.
The company’s patients access its U.S.-based, licensed and board-certified physicians (certified usually in internal, family, emergency or pediatric medicine) through a mobile app, the web or over the phone, usually at no cost to the employee. The typical time from a patient request to a doctor visit is 5 minutes – slightly higher during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By bringing convenience, affordability and quality to its patients’ medical needs, the company says it can deliver a delightful healthcare experience.
First Stop Health says it is able to provide savings guarantees to employer clients, and on average delivers a 100+% ROI to clients measured solely in the cost of avoided visits to physical healthcare facilities.
GlobalMed offers software, stations and diagnostic devices for telemedicine delivery.
On the software front, GlobalMed’s eNcounter is a virtual health software platform that offers a host of virtual care delivery functionalities. It starts with launching a video virtual health consultation between a patient and provider. During the consultation, the provider can use integrated digital medical devices to capture vitals, images and other health data that is then stored as part of the patient’s health record.
Once the consultation is complete, the data is sent to the provider’s electronic health record that keeps the patient record up to date regardless of the type of visit – virtual or face-to-face. This ensures valuable health data is not lost as what happens with a video-only telemedicine service. The result is clinicians have the fullness of their patient’s history and can make evidence-based care decisions no matter where the patient is located.
Since the data is integrated with the EHR using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) protocols, the provider also receives the data in a way that is usable and actionable. This contributes to furthering healthcare initiatives for predictive analytics that depend on data accuracy. The eNcounter platform also includes the ClearSteth application that offers a simple solution for the remote sharing of high-quality heart, lung and body sounds that is interoperable with other digital telescopes.
On the station’s front, to meet the global market demand for smaller and lighter delivery systems, GlobalMed’s station offerings include exam carts, space-saving wall mounted units and mobile hard-cases and backpacks. GlobalMed also manufactures lightweight cameras and otoscopes for high definition images and video.
Station offerings include: WallDoc, a mounted stationary exam station; Transportable Exam Station, mobile solution available in a briefcase or a backpack; Clinical Access Stations, a comprehensive mobile solution; Xpress Station, a smaller-sized Clinical Access Station; and Teleaudiology Station, built especially for audiology treatment.
Overall, the goals of the vendor’s telemedicine technologies are to expand access to healthcare to the underserved, help providers manage capacity and reduce burnout, reduce care delivery and administrative costs, and improve patient outcomes. GlobalMed’s virtual health technologies support interoperability through a data-driven, evidence-based experience that can connect patients to advanced expertise, foster provider collaboration and increase visibility into the patient’s healthcare history.
The telemedicine vendor says this style of healthcare is always beneficial, but that the health and safety of patients and care providers is a top priority as the healthcare industry navigates the challenges of treating the COVID-19 virus. Administrative staff, clinicians and other providers on the front lines of treating COVID-19 should be equipped to care for patients while limiting the threat of exposure or transmission of the virus.
To rapidly respond, treat and minimize exposure, InTouch Health offers two systems to support hospitals and healthcare facilities as they assess and triage patients; provide ongoing and uninterrupted patient care; tele-isolate; limit onsite visits; and maximize resources for care teams.
Solo by In Touch is a scalable software platform that enables any sized healthcare organization to provide real-time care to patients at home, as well as in a facility. Within less than 24 hours, InTouch Health can deploy the cloud-based software to enable secure end-to-end patient care that can either be scheduled or on-demand.
This system includes a virtual COVID-19 questionnaire to address the high demand healthcare providers are experiencing in 2020. In response to the public health crisis, InTouch Health is waiving monthly access fees for its software platform for four months.
Another system the vendor offers is Teleisolation. This system allows care providers to deliver high-quality care while reducing exposure to patients with infectious diseases when isolated in a healthcare facility. The system is designed to address complex disease processes, remotely manage emergent care needs, and coordinate throughput and productivity.
The Teleisolation system is powered by the InTouch Telehealth Network, which has facilitated more than three million network sessions. In cases of quarantine, Teleisolation also allows family members to stay in contact with loved ones.
Maple is a Canadian virtual care platform that provides timely and convenient access to doctors and other healthcare providers. With a network of more than 600 physicians, its consumer-facing platform allows patients to connect directly with ER or family doctors in minutes from their smartphone or computer 24/7, 365 days a year.
Canadians also can connect with specialists like dermatologists, pediatricians and psychiatrists through Maple to reduce wait and travel times. Maple’s direct-to-consumer system is leveraged by more than 200 benefits providers and employers; it’s a means of reducing workplace absences and increasing team productivity and employee retention, the company said.
In addition, Maple provides custom technology for hospitals and clinics seeking to advance how they deliver care. These systems include a tele-hospitalist platform, which has been keeping the doors open at Alberton PEI’s Western Hospital since August 2018. This platform allows a network of physicians from across the country to provide care to the hospital’s inpatients.
Maple and Western Hospital also have introduced a telemedicine ER-diversion system, which allows ER patients who meet a certain criteria to immediately connect with a doctor by video rather than waiting to see the doctor on site.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Maple has worked to develop a publicly covered COVID-19 screening program in Ontario, which connects patients directly to Canadian doctors to discuss symptoms, risk factors, and the appropriate next steps for their unique situation. The company also is offering its virtual clinic software to Ontario and British Columbia physicians free of charge to allow doctors to easily move their practices to the virtual world, in order to slow the spread of the disease.
MediOrbis is a multi-specialty telemedicine company that is extending the reach of specialized clinical care and chronic disease management to its global customer base. The vendor says it aims for efficiency and cost-effectiveness to meet the needs of providers, payers and health systems, including hospital ICUs that urgently need this service. MediOrbis combines AI-powered software with a network of specialty physicians to deliver expert telemedicine services in virtually any field of medicine, clinical care or diagnostics.
MediOrbis service offerings include general telemedicine and acute/episodic consultations. Patients who have non-severe complaints are encouraged to engage the telemedicine service and connect with a physician to address their medical issues. Consultations could involve both general and specific health questions, mild infections and health conditions, and medication refills. The ease of connecting to a physician makes this service extremely valuable, as routine medical encounters can be handled quickly via the telemedicine service, rather than requiring the time-consuming process of an in-person doctor visit.
Service offerings also include medical specialty consultations. In instances where a specialty medical opinion is necessary, especially in overburdened hospital ICUs and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, MediOrbis provides a network of specialists to help answer more complex questions. Specialty services include both specialty consultations as well as second opinion evaluations, where the specialist reviews the individual’s previous records and composes a comprehensive report as to the findings.
And the vendor’s service offerings include chronic disease management. Health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, heart disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic kidney disease require continuous patient and provider input in order to ensure the best outcomes. The vendor’s chronic disease management program includes a guidelines-adherent and best practice compliant care program, healthcare coordinators, software and healthcare tools, and access to the network of physicians.
Mend offers a patient engagement platform that includes telehealth, digital forms, appointment reminders, patient and staff scheduling, secure messaging, and more. The telehealth platform works without any software downloads for patients or providers. The patient gets a secure link via text message and email, clicks the link, inputs their date of birth, and they are connected.
The telehealth software works on low-bandwidth connections and includes instant support within 20 seconds for patients and providers if they have any trouble establishing a connection, which is rare, the company said. Mend can handle a variety of telehealth workflows, including patient at home, on-demand queues, transfers, video kiosks, consents, digital forms, payments, group scheduling, group video and ad-hoc visits. The telehealth platform integrates with most EHR and practice management systems, the company said.
Mend has customers across the spectrum of healthcare specialties. Healthcare provider organizations look to implement telehealth programs using Mend to reduce no-shows, enhance the patient experience, attract new providers, load-balance providers across locations, and prevent the spread of illness by keeping patients at home.
The Philips Acute telehealth platform, eCareManager, bridges care transitions to mitigate gaps in access and care management. Connected care teams use this digital platform to manage the patient through phases of care to route specialists across venue transitions in the hospital. This model is scalable across a single hospital or across a multi-state health system and through interoperability can participate in data aggregation to transmit to public health reporting agencies.
Philips technology is designed well for the COVID-19 pandemic. For the emergency department, remote care teams are centrally located with access through hi-definition bi-directional audio-video technology across multiple EDs for direct consultative care for the ID clinician or specialist. This advances standardization of ID protocols to safeguard providers and provide rapid assessment to determine care disposition and treatment pathways.
Surge and over-crowding can be centrally managed by monitoring bed availability across a hospital or network and also provide specialists to accelerate decisions on where to admit patients. Should an infected patient be identified and admitted to hospital-based quarantine care, isolation-supportive technology reduces healthcare worker unnecessary access to the contaminated environment.
Telehealth can be used in this situation to monitor the patient’s condition virtually by combining vitals, labs and medication data outside of the patient’s room. Telehealth technology can be deployed on mobile devices to monitor ante-room observation and personal protective equipment compliance and adherence to sterile precautions safeguarding providers. During longer periods of quarantine, the same clinical telehealth technology can be provided to family members for visitation to provide comfort and contact.
Since COVID-19 is predominantly a respiratory illness, patients with more severe cases may require ICU care. In the intensive care unit, a scarcity of critical care intensivists and bed availability can compromise efficient patient flow through the hospital. eCareManager acuity-based scoring tools monitor a patient’s condition to detect subtle deteriorations and adverse trends prior to becoming adverse events.
Predictive AI-enabled algorithms such as Sentry Score, designed to focus on a patient’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems, provide clinicians in the telehealth center with predictive insights into those patients with the highest probability of requiring an intervention in the next 60 minutes.
As bed availability and critical decisions on patient throughput are required, eCareManager integrates as part of its Clinical Performance Applications Suite the Discharge Readiness Score, a predictive algorithm that provides clinicians objective scoring on a patient’s risk of death or readmission within 48 hours of a planned discharge.
RelyMD is a digital health company that provides coordinated telehealth technology to health systems, managed care organizations and employers. Founded by a group of emergency medicine physicians and healthcare entrepreneurs, the vendor’s mission is to simplify people’s lives by delivering reliable, trusted medical care – anytime and anywhere – that fosters healthier communities and workplaces.
RelyMD’s Community Virtual Health system gives hospitals and health systems a branded telehealth service they can provide to their greater community. The system is designed to help hospitals increase downstream revenue by growing patient acquisition. In addition, hospitals can use the company’s care coordination protocols to connect patients with complex care needs to additional facilities within the health system’s network of care, improving patient retention.
RelyMD’s Virtual Post-Acute Care technology is designed to help health systems reduce readmissions, increasing reimbursements through value-based payment programs. By connecting nurses and caregivers across post-acute care networks, this system is designed to improve care transitions, divert unnecessary ER visits and reduce inappropriate hospital readmissions.
The vendor’s Employee Virtual Care program is designed to help organizations across all industries reduce healthcare spend by giving employees access to lower-cost healthcare that’s available 24/7. Employees no longer need to rely on traditionally expensive care options such as emergency departments and urgent care facilities for unscheduled, low-acuity medical conditions.
Teladoc Health offers hospitals and health systems an end-to-end, licensable telehealth system and operational support to deliver care conveniently and securely for patients, physicians and the communities they serve. The cloud-architected technology allows flexibility such as white-labeled branding, configurable physician networks and multiple service lines, and can readily scale to enable connectivity across enterprises.
The company also is offering the Teladoc Health Rapid Response program, designed specifically to help organizations address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Health Rapid Response program is designed to quickly bring virtual care to patients, healthcare providers and communities. It comprises two COVID-19 systems designed to remotely care for those who do not need in-person medical intervention, with the aim to keep potentially infected individuals out of care facilities and prevent putting others at risk.
The two COVID-19 system components are: Virtual Care by TDH, a short-term, shared Teladoc Health-branded environment that can be live within 24 hours; and Single White-Labeled Environment, a preconfigured virtual care environment that can be to-market within weeks, and can later be expanded to support an organization’s long-term telehealth strategy.
VitalTech is a vendor of fully integrated digital health and telehealth systems and smart biomedical wearables that provide real-time remote patient monitoring. The company offers a comprehensive system that includes a suite of services to keep all relevant parties – the care providers, patient and family members – involved in patient care through its online portal, wearable technology and mobile apps.
The connected care platform, VitalCare, enables health systems, skilled nursing facilities, home health providers, physicians and senior living facilities to streamline workflows in a way designed to improve health outcomes, increase patient safety and lower the cost of care. VitalTech’s biosensors integrate seamlessly into its suite of mobile devices and software, designed to increase patient engagement and compliance.
With telehealth use increasing across the globe to stop the spread of COVID-19, physicians and patients can connect through VitalCare’s platform to video chat, call or message one another. Additionally, physicians can triage care and monitor patients’ self-reported vitals, nutrition and medication intake. In times like these it’s also important to check in and stay connected with loved ones. VitalCare’s Family Connect App allows family members to monitor falls, view vitals, send messages and set medication reminders from any smart device.
VitalTech’s mission is to develop and support emerging health technologies through integrated software platforms. Advanced biometric wearables, real-time data collection and advanced analytics provide actionable data to users and their care teams that are monitored and shared remotely. Through this integrated technology and shared care, VitalTech works to improve patient outcomes, lower overall costs, and enhance quality of life and care of patients across the care continuum.
Vivify Health offers a mobile, cloud-based platform that powers holistic remote care management through personalized care plans, biometric data monitoring, multi-channel patient education, virtual visits, and functionality configured to each patient’s unique needs.
Vivify Pathways is a patient-centered, connected care platform. It creates an on-demand digital pathway to collaborative care that extends from remote monitoring of high-risk patients to population health to employee wellness. It digitally expands care team outreach and keeps an automated eye on early decompensation, transitioning episodic care into financially efficient, proactive ongoing care.
As a result, care teams can become empowered to prevent unplanned hospitalization, improve outcomes, enhance patient and provider satisfaction, and save costs, the company says. Vivify Pathways extends care beyond the four walls of the provider facility to include populations of any size, condition and risk level. These systems can be delivered to virtually any mobile device or PC, or via a fully managed home kit.
COVID-19 Screening, Self-Isolation and Monitoring Pathways, which runs with the Vivify +Go mobile system, enables low-risk patients or those with mild symptoms to use their mobile devices to self-screen for COVID-19 by answering a series of questions that follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The self-screening helps providers scale their availability by reducing the onslaught of worried patients converging on a facility, enabling physicians to focus their attention on those with the greatest COVID-19 health risks. It also saves patients who may not have the disease now from potential exposure in crowded emergency departments or physician offices.
The COVID-19 Self-Isolation and Monitoring pathways enable all patients to use their mobile devices to continually update their symptoms, which are monitored remotely by providers. They can also use their devices to receive constant updates from current CDC guidelines.
Additionally, information about other pre-existing health risks such as diabetes, chronic pulmonary obstruction disease, congestive heart failure or any of 90+ other chronic conditions can also be monitored at home, ensuring those at the highest risk levels for COVID-19 receive proper care. Vivify provides built-in telehealth through virtual visits and secure messaging when direct provider interaction is necessary.
Vivify Pathways +Go is a mobile, cloud-based, bring-your-own-device system for patient-centered, connected care. It can be used to create a digital pathway to collaborative care on-demand and meet patients where they are to help drive better health outcomes. Multiple levels of care are available, as well as easy escalation to Vivify Pathways +Home as-needed for those highest-risk patients.
Vivify Pathways+Home is a system for remote care for home health. Each +Home kit includes the appropriate biometric monitors for the patient’s condition plus a tablet that can be used to upload readings and participate in telehealth calls. Vivify manages the logistics of sending kits to patients, tracking them, getting them returned and preparing them for the next patient.
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