Patient Access

Accelerating Telemedicine

Using telemedicine at home


This episode explores the changes that a large health system made to adapt their virtual care programs to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as some speculation about what the future of virtual care and telemedicine look like post-pandemic. Michael Carter, senior IT manager at Mass General Brigham in Boston joins the podcast to share some of his decade-plus of experience leading telehealth platform development for a large integrated delivery network.

Like other healthcare providers everywhere, the pandemic Mass General Brigham to rapidly expand their telemedicine offerings, growing in the span of a few months from tens of thousands of telehealth visits annually to over 1.4 million visits for 2020 by the end of October. The program supports over 30,000 physicians spread across eastern Massachusetts.

Like many providers, the organization had incumbent vendors when the pandemic began. Some scaled to meet the new demand, and some saw their systems buckle under the crush. Coping with the demand required some compromises to make something work in time, but eventually, all organizations will need to turn their attention to the future of virtual care.

HIMSS released research on consumer preferences for telehealth and drawing from this data we discuss the market pressure posed by direct-to-consumer telehealth companies and the clear future preferences of younger patients for virtual care visits. While there may be some immediate impact on primary care and other revenues, Carter believes that traditional providers will be able to leverage the eventual need for in-person services to retain market-share.

We explore how the rapid changes required by COVID-19 might lead to a resorting of the telehealth market as some vendors see their business exploding while others lose market share for one reason or another. Finally, we explore a bit of the decision-making that goes into selecting a telehealth-specific platform versus building a system that layers video capabilities onto existing platform investments such as electronic health record systems. The episode closes with some advice for organizations beginning to build their own telehealth capabilities with a few practical bits of advice.

The views and opinions expressed in this content or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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