The following is a guest contributed post from Lee Horner, President of Stratus Video

Many providers are still wary of telehealth, as they are of any tool or technology that will require them to practice differently. However, emerging applications of telehealth that do not require providers to alter their workflows are revealing a totally new value proposition that could rapidly accelerate its adoption across the U.S.

Instead of offering patients a direct line to their providers, which some argue could cannibalize lucrative in-office visits, telehealth is increasingly being leveraged to offer doctors immediate in-network specialist expertise, as well as the ability to remotely check-in on their patients post-discharge. These applications add convenience for providers, increase care quality and satisfaction for patients, and help reduce costs for hospitals by curbing avoidable hospital and ED admissions and readmissions.

Immediate In-network Specialist Expertise
Providers’ current workflows can be optimized by using technology to automate and expedite consults. With telehealth, providers can be more patient-centric by being able to quickly access in-network specialists for needed expertise.  Care can be enhanced from a quality and timing perspective.  In terms of quality, providers can reach out to their network of experts who can be trusted to deliver the diagnoses and treatment plan specific to the individual patient. In terms of timing, providers can immediately find the first available specialist for answers, especially in critical, time-sensitive situations.  Instead of wasting valuable seconds and minutes looking for the names and contact information for specialists, providers can use a video-based platform that is already configured to contact in-network colleagues based on specialty and availability.

For example, a provider may be at a patient’s bedside and realize that a specialist is quickly needed to further evaluate the patient’s condition.  The provider uses a telehealth solution to reach out to an in-network specialist.  The specialist accepts the request, from anywhere and on any device.  During the virtual consult, the specialist can assess the patient and collaborate with the provider on the appropriate next steps for the patient.  All stakeholders – the provider, the specialist, and the patient – benefit from the immediacy, efficiency, and effectiveness of a virtual consult conducted in real-time.

Convenient Patient Follow-up
To check-in with patients after a hospital stay or outpatient procedure, providers can use technology to complement their patient follow-up processes.  With telehealth, providers can be more patient-centric by enabling their patients to receive follow-up care in the most comfortable setting – the patients’ own home.   Instead of requiring patients to travel to one’s office or another healthcare setting, providers can deliver care conveniently via video.  Travel time, transportation expenses, and no-shows are minimized while provider/patient satisfaction is increased.

For example, a provider can conduct a series of virtual visits with patients to ensure adherence to a treatment plan.    During each virtual visit, the provider can assess the patient’s progress, address questions in real-time, and reinforce the treatment plan.  The patient remains comfortably at home; the provider remains conveniently in the office. The stakeholders – the provider and the patient – share the goal of minimizing readmissions by using timely conversations to improve adherence and overall outcomes.

Summary
By using technology to automate and complement existing workflows, providers can help drive more timely and trusted patient care.   Minutes or hours which specialists, providers, and patients typically spends in trying to access or deliver care is minimized.  Care collaboration is enhanced as providers and specialists evaluate patients in real-time – whether the patient is available for the video call or not.

As providers strive to make their practice more patient-centric,  telehealth can help them expand their reach and resonance within their patient community and their own network of healthcare colleagues,  regardless of distance.

Author Bio: Lee Horner, President, Telehealth, Stratus Video

Lee is charged with leading the overall strategic direction of the Stratus Video Telehealth Division. Lee is responsible for driving revenue by generating new business and leveraging relationships with existing clients. As a healthcare technology thought leader, Lee brings over 25 years of enterprise operating experience and has a proven track record as a key executive leader of sales, marketing and professional services for healthcare technology companies. Prior to joining Stratus in April of 2016, Lee served as President of Care Cloud, where he was responsible for overseeing and driving significant top and bottom line growth while focusing on technology excellence and client satisfaction. A Sarasota native, Lee is an avid boater, fisherman and golfer. He enjoys spending time on the water and attending Tampa Bay Lightning games.

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