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Pick your favorite phrase about telehealth. "We're not going back" "The genie is out of the bottle" "The toothpaste is out of the tube". This sentiment is prevalent. Are we ready?

On Today in Health IT I look at two experiences on the same day. One is my neighbor who was seeing a specialist from an Academic Medical Center for a rare disease and the second was my wife who wanted to talk to a physician about a nagging problem.

One was a great experience, the other not so much. It got me to thinking, are we ready? Do we have UI/UX experts looking at our workflow. Do we have the right patient/customer support mechanisms in place? Do we provide the right services to our community. 

I will say that in my wife's case, not a single dime went to the local provider in our market. The entire event was handled through our payer and teladoc. Perhaps the doctor was on staff at the local provider, but we have no idea really. The payer directed our care from end-to-end. That's just interesting to think about.

So, are we ready?

#healthcare #telehealth #healthIT #chime #himss #cio #cmio


 This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

  Today in Health it, this story is a Tale of two telehealth visits. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. I wanna thank our sponsor for today's Serious Healthcare. We connected over our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders.

A little over a year ago, and the rest is history as they say. If you believe in our mission and wanna support the show, please shoot me a note at partner at this week in health Alright, here's today's story. Today I'm gonna talk about two telehealth visits, which both occurred yesterday. I believe these to be pretty relevant to where we're at today and something that we can build on.

So the first visit, first visit is my neighbor. He is in his eighties and is suffering from a rare blood disorder that is impacting his heart health. He had a telehealth appointment scheduled for yesterday, about one 30 ish, and he wanted me to help him get it set up and ensure that he didn't miss it.

All right, you get the picture, A named academic medical center specialist patient and a former CIO for a health system acting as tech support. Alright, so that's, that's the picture. Let's start with, he uses a OL to get online , so you, you get the picture of the technology that we're working with. Although he has a camera, I gave him a camera a little while ago and they have audio in the laptop itself, so he, he was good to go there.

That is his primary browser though, the a OL browser. So we get into the portal and straight from MyChart, there's a link to launch the video session with the physician. We clicked on that link, which launched a zoom window, which got blocked. So we stopped, backed up, unblocked the URL and repeated the previous steps and it opened the zoom session and said, waiting for the physician to start the meeting, but not before.

It gave us some sort of browser error, which hung out in the background. Okay, but that zoom window waiting for the physician is still in the front. The appointment was at one 30. We were ready around 1 25. One 30 comes and goes. He's probably just running a little late. I said one 40 passes. We start to wonder if we did something wrong.

On our end. We call the appointment support desk. After about a three minute wait on hold, we get a nice lady on the phone who tells us she has no way of seeing the physician status. So she asks us to wait on hold for the cardiology department who will have more information at about 1 49. We're still on hold when the physician pops up on the screen.

Success, sort of the patient is trying to talk to the physician, but he can't hear him because he needs to click on enable computer audio for the call. I let him know to click on the button. He does and they are connected. And this leads me to think I. What is your process when your specialist is running late on your telehealth appointments?

This was not a great customer experience, even though I found it amazing that he ended up talking to a specialist who had expertise in his rare blood disorder, and that physician was hundreds of miles away. I was really impressed, but the patient was not so impressed. My wife, on the other hand, this is the second telehealth visit.

My wife has a nagging problem. She hasn't picked a primary care physician yet, and don't send me any emails. We've both done it now. We just changed our insurance for our company, and that is the process that we have to follow on our end. We are on UnitedHealthcare and I told her that they have a Teladoc service that we can use.

Seven by 24, 365. Video visit on demand, the cost to us is $0. All you have to do is hit the portal, which we did. We hit the portal, we logged in from the home screen. Request a video visit. We click on the button. Before doing this, you have to provide them some medical background, fill out two forms, agree to a couple check boxes, select phone or video visit.

She wanted a phone visit. Submit email and text. Arrive immediately telling her what to expect. Next phone call comes in within five minutes. Short conversation and medications. Are prescribed, which she already knew she needed, and she is on her way to pick those up at Walmart pharmacy down the street.

Very different experience, even though the first visit was a little clunky due to the much needed information, I. The experience as a whole was very good. The customer was extremely satisfied. This is available to us, as I said on our plan, $0 copay, and it is open seven by 24. My wife's comment, I think I'm gonna start all future visits with a telehealth visit.

I. Why not? No winning, no line, no copay, same outcome. Here's my so what on this? As you know, at the end of these stories, I try to do a so what? Why does this matter? Why should you pay attention? Why should you care? And I think the two might be obvious. I'm gonna go ahead and say 'em anyway. For the first one, I believe that unless.

I tell someone, no one at the academic medical center will know that their telehealth experience has a gap in it that leads to a substandard patient experience. We need to get really good at this, the ui ux, the user interface, user experience of the telehealth visit. We have to be excellent at it. Look at it often, get feedback where it makes sense, and adjust your workflow to provide the best experience possible.

What might it look like? Somebody who's monitoring the queue. Who somehow is texting the patient to let them know that the physician's running a little behind, could be 10 minutes, could be 15 minutes, could be 20 minutes. I don't know what the design should have been, but I know that the patient should know that the physician is running almost 19 minutes behind, because otherwise they're gonna be guessing.

Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe it's my computer. Maybe it's my browser. There's all sorts of things that go on in their head and we're we're going on in my head quite frankly, and I know healthcare and I know technology and I was still trying to figure out did we do something wrong? 19 minutes in.

Alright, my so what for the second visit is not a single dime went to our primary care doc or the health system down the street. It remains to be seen if the medical information is gonna move from Teladoc to the local provider when the time comes for my wife to see the local doctor. That's gonna be interesting to see and I'm gonna keep an eye on that.

But look at this closely. The payer is directing our care to the lowest possible cost provider. Is that happening in your market? It likely is, since UnitedHealthcare is largest payer in the country, figure out how to identify lost revenue to competitors. Know why your patients are going that route, why are they choosing that route?

You have to build an alternative that keeps them in your health system if you can. These first visits are becoming commoditized and retail. We have to think about how to attract, capture, and retain . Consumers in this new environment. All right. That's all for today. If you know of someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note.

They can subscribe on our website this week,, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Apple, Google Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher. I. You get the picture. We're everywhere. We wanna thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders, VMware Hillrom, Starbridge Advisors, McAfee and Aruba Networks.

Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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