After trial and error, providers weigh virtual care offerings to fit post-COVID-19 needs

Amid pandemic, specialty telehealth outpaces urgent care, Amwell poll says

Dive Brief:

Providers that have experimented with virtual care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are prepping for their post-COVID operations, though some are still exploring options after months of trial and error with new platforms, according to a report published Wednesday from Klas Research.
The survey of 277 provider, payer and employer organizations found almost a quarter of respondents are actively looking to replace their platform or feel unsatisfied but stuck with it. Respondents also said few tools exist today robust enough to meet all their telehealth needs in the future — especially those from inpatient organizations.
Video conferencing vendors are among the most vulnerable because replacing them is a fairly smooth process, according to the report.

Dive Insight:
As the pandemic has forced providers throughout the country to turn to digital tools to continue providing routine care, clinicians are trying a multitude of platforms to see what can deliver.
Klas said that while most providers use the telehealth capabilities their main EHR vendor offers, many combine a blend of different IT options to meet their virtual care needs.
Klas researchers divided virtual care vendors into three groups: non-EHR virtual care platforms, video conferencing platforms and EHR-centric virtual care platforms, to gauge provider sentiment.
Non-EHR virtual care platforms are healthcare focused, offering several visit types and healthcare workflows including virtual waiting rooms and patient scheduling and check-in.
Amwell and Teladoc’s InTouch are key players, though few customers plan to use them to meet all their telehealth needs in the future, according to the report. Amwell, which recently announced a partnership with Google Cloud, has struggled to scale to growth and maintain adequate support, and customer satisfaction has slowly declined since 2018, Klas researchers said.
Respondents rated their highest satisfaction for non-EHR virtual care platforms with Caregility first, followed by Teladoc’s InTouch, VSee, MDLive and Amwell.
Researchers then asked about video conferencing platforms used for clinical cases.
About 30% of respondents using Zoom and said they won’t keep those vendors long term, and are looking for a system with better integration and a simplified clinical experience, with many looking to switch to their EHR vendors option in the future.
While Microsoft stood out for its newly developed healthcare-specific capabilities for Teams, patient experience fell behind that of other vendors. Vidyo scored the worst among video conferencing platforms, with over half of respondents saying they will not keep it long term and would not buy it again.
The last category was EHR-centric virtual care platforms, which include patient portals that allow for scheduling, documentation and billing, and can be done natively or through an EHR integration.
Epic and NextGen scored high for overall satisfaction, in part because of strong EHR integration enjoyed by clinicians, according to the report.
Epic users often have more complex needs though; while all respondents said Epic will be core to their telehealth strategy, less than half said it will be their sole telehealth vendor.
More than 80% percent of respondents using NextGen said they’ll use its Virtual Visits offering, which it acquired from OTTO Health, as their sole source of telehealth technology. Those customers consistently reported positive feedback from patients who receive a link directly via email or text and can easily launch into a visit.

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