By Danielle Russella, President, Customer Solutions
You may have seen the news that Community Health Systems (CHS) is now partnering with American Well to make telehealth available to their patients for primary care video visits. CHS, one of the largest health systems in the U.S., is the most recent system to join our growing roster of partners. Today we are proud to call about 30 health systems, representing over 300 individual hospitals nationwide, our clients. They include an impressive list of innovative, diverse organizations like Intermountain Healthcare, Providence Health System, Avera Health, Nemours Children’s, Jefferson, Indiana University, and Cleveland Clinic.
Following health plans, health systems are the fastest growing sector of the telehealth adoption market. You may be wondering – why? The top five reasons health systems are implementing telehealth are to:
1.Deliver a better experience that will retain and attract patients
Patients consistently report high satisfaction with telehealth encounters (97% of patients report satisfaction with an online telehealth encounter with American Well) because it provides convenient after-hours care options and reduces wait times, travel time and costs associated with accessing care at traditional care settings. This high satisfaction leads to a better overall experience and a greater affinity for the health system. Naturally telehealth can be a draw for an existing patient to stay with their doctor if they can see them more regularly over video – and may attract new patients beyond the immediate vicinity of that hospital or system.
2. Reduce hospital admission rates
Hospital readmission rates are a big issue today, and with huge associated costs. Telehealth can help reduce admission rates by enabling doctors, care managers or pharmacists to see patients over video for follow-up care and care management for chronically ill and post-surgical patients.
3. Enhance depth, breadth and distribution of medical providers and specialists
Community Health Systems and other partners have multiple campuses and hospitals with specialists and other allied health providers distributed throughout these locations or regions. Telehealth enables hospitals to distribute staff and expertise throughout the system and provide access to more specialists, ensuring that patients have timely access to the doctors they need to see – without appointment scheduling, waiting and longer-term coordination. Telehealth also greatly improves provider-to-provider communication so doctors can easily share information, resulting in care that is more coordinated and cost effective. Finally, with telehealth, multi-disciplinary teams can more easily be assembled to care for a patient or a panel of patients.
4. Cut costs through more preventative outreach
As more patients are covered under alternative or value-based reimbursement arrangements, hospital systems need to find ways to engage and manage chronically ill patients. By reducing the number of preventable admissions, from complications like diabetes, dehydration and heart conditions, hospitals can greatly reduce their costs. A decrease in the number of potentially avoidable hospital admissions from 2005 to 2010 saved nearly $1 billion in hospital costs. Telehealth is also a powerful tool to triage acute exacerbations and to match the point of care with the acuity of the problem. Telehealth facilitates consistent, convenient ongoing monitoring for those at-risk for hospitalization, ensuring that they’re as healthy as possible.
5. Help improve clinical outcomes
Patients who participate in their care have significantly better outcomes. Telehealth is a powerful tool to drive patient compliance with medication and post-discharge instructions and connect them more easily with physicians and caregivers. We’re looking forward to working closely with Community Health Systems to deliver a telehealth service that will improve outcomes and enhance care for their patients and communities.
What’s a reason you didn’t see on this list that you suggest adding? Please share in the comments.