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December 14, 2021

The future of care delivery: Tips for putting your telehealth investments to work in 2022

This blog is an excerpt from Bright.md’s latest eBook, How to develop your 2022 digital care strategy: Put your telehealth investments to work with Baptist Health’s Dr. Brett Oliver. Download the full eBook now.

What does it take to formulate an effective and efficient digital care strategy in 2022? As organizations continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic, many are also undertaking assessments of their Covid-19 tech implementations to determine if they’re viable for the long run.

But what does the “long run” actually look like? Consumer demands have shifted as a result of the pandemic, forcing hospitals and health systems to meet changing demands or risk losing revenue to direct-to-consumer options. Health equity and care access are additional points to consider when formulating a digital care strategy—with the amount of venture capital being poured into digital solutions, some are warning we still could forget about those still struggling to access care in an increasingly connected world.

“I want to step back and look at where we are here in 2021,” said John League Managing Director, Digital Health Research at Advisory Board. “There is a lot of hard-earned experience and information coming out of the past 18 months. The future is not written in stone; a lot of folks like me and you who are excited about telehealth [need to] move past this tipping point into a world where telehealth is regular—where how we interact with this care is part of any patient journey.”

Questions with a CMIO: How to develop a hybrid care strategy in 2022

Dr. Brett Oliver, Chief Medical Information Officer at Baptist Health, is a family physician by training. The largest not-for-profit health system in Kentucky, Baptist Health recently bolstered its eVisit functionality by launching Bright.md’s asynchronous telehealth platform and expanding its eVisits offerings from six common medical conditions to 25, including coughs, pink eye, sinus issues, urinary infections, and COVID-19/flu screening.

Check out a portion of our Q&A with Dr. Oliver below, where we discuss his experience implementing digital solutions at Baptist, and how he and his team are addressing challenges in a post-pandemic environment. To read the full interview with additional insights and an actionable checklist, download the eBook now.

1. How are you thinking about or measuring value as it relates to virtual care at Baptist Health?

Dr. Oliver: Virtual care comes back to access—access to primary care and access to the right level of care. We look at efficiencies, access, and direct revenue, but also patient satisfaction. The whole concept of a waiting room is changing a bit, but sometimes in healthcare, there’s a lack of recognition on the consumer side. Of course, it’s a little more complicated than ordering Dominos, for instance, but it’s not that different. We’ve let these systems go for a while. And while we’re being pulled along culturally kicking and screaming, Covid has helped muffle those screams, at least a little.

2. It’s interesting that ultimately as an industry, we don’t need to teach patients to interact digitally. Are your patients pushing for these functionalities?

Dr. Oliver: I think there’s a bit of variability, whether they’re the early adopters of the technology or they’re just signing up for the portal. Other industries have primed the pump with regard to literacy about technology. When you focus on education and set up, it really comes down to if the digital service is appropriate for what you’re asking for, whether that’s a triage navigator or a video that says ‘Here’s what an e-visit is, this is how you use it.’ I find that level of patient education comes down not the technology side itself, but the healthcare side.

3. So what does that look like for the patient? What are the top ways you let people know these channels are open to them?

Dr. Oliver: I think the most effective tool is that one-on-one conversation with the patient. It’s also on me to educate my colleagues. On our website, there’s alot of education that dives into the digital health services we offer, but there’s no silver bullet. I really think the process is slow—it’s not a mass email that’ll get it done, or a mass media campaign. The most effective way is when I, as a provider, have a conversation with the patient and say, ‘Hey, next time this comes up, why don’t you try it this way, it could work.” It’s that kind of education you have to get the provider to offer to them, which is tough since it’s a busy clinic already.

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4. We’ve talked a lot about access. When you think about how to engage the entirety of your population, how do you see asynchronous and virtual care supporting health equity goals at Baptist Health?

Dr. Oliver: There’s this old wives’ tale that the elderly won’t use [the technology]. Personally, I found that with our health services, once they understand it, they’re some of the highest users. We had about 165,000 digital visits and about four percent of those folks were over the age of 80. Part of it is educating providers, but I also wouldn’t write someone off because of their birthday.

Probably the biggest thing that threatens health equity that’s outside of our control is broadband access. Getting it up to eastern Kentucky is hard. That’s why we went with Bright.md—the platform doesn’t require broadband access to use it. But that is our biggest threat. From an asynchronous perspective, that obviously needed to happen, but also for patient satisfaction to be maximized.

5. Thinking about how we move forward with what is going to have a decades’ long impact, what are you thinking about in terms of your role and what you want Baptist to be doing over the next 12 months?

Dr. Oliver: I’m very happy with the offerings we have in our digital portfolio, but things happened quickly. My goal is to spend the next six to 12 months smoothing that out. We’re transitioning to a different video platform in the next few months, with the sole goal of making it easier. We want to bring our clinicians along with workflows, scheduling, and billing, so we’re needing to spend time with them on the education of that video visits piece.

We’re also putting infrastructure in place with texts, and I’m focusing on supporting my team with new workflows. That’s where we want to spend our time—smoothing out our rough edges with asynchronous [technology] and keeping an eye out on the horizon. For us, the next piece beyond asynchronous is getting more clinics into the home and doing that peripheral monitoring piece.

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