How DispatchHealth is Leveraging Technology and Virtual Care: Q&A With Chief Operating Officer Shannon Werb
In the healthcare industry, advances in telecommunication technologies have led to the creation of an entirely new platform: virtual care. What’s the impact of this new way to remotely diagnose and treat patients in the healthcare industry, and how is DispatchHealth leveraging virtual care? Read on for a Q&A with DispatchHealth leader Shannon Werb.
About the DispatchHealth Leader Commenting
Shannon Werb, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
As a technology visionary and healthcare executive with more than 20 years of experience (CEO, COO, CSO, and CIO), Mr. Werb drives all aspects of management over healthcare-related IP and technology patents. His focus is on the operational, clinical, and financial benefits of technology solutions in medicine—including virtual care and artificial intelligence (AI).
How are technological innovations impacting the healthcare industry, and how is DispatchHealth embracing innovation in their clinical operations?
SW: While healthcare is continuously reinventing itself and is often aided by technological innovation, 2020 has definitely been a year with more challenges than normal. These challenges have almost acted like an accelerant to many technological initiatives that have already been underway in the healthcare industry. For example, the transition to leveraging virtual care has seen an exceptional increase in utilization.
This transition to virtual care has also required reform in traditional healthcare payment models. In some cases, this adjustment has been to simply enable the use/payment of virtual care services, but it has also made the industry look closer at pay-for-performance and value-based care. Likewise, the now increased use of virtual care has challenged the industry to think more about patient care in different settings. This is especially true for higher acuity patients who can benefit from a healthcare provider being present and offering a more “hands-on” approach in the home.
As a result, DispatchHealth is seeing and driving innovations in the healthcare industry through the use of virtual care beyond traditional approaches. We’re looking for ways to bring this technology into the home, interacting with patients by directly providing a higher fidelity experience with remote providers while still creating an overall better patient experience. I think we’re going to see a number of these innovations in the coming months and years as the industry looks to bring healthcare to the patient in a much more sophisticated fashion.
How does technology aid the workflows of DispatchHealth medical providers when arranging visits, on-scene, and departing?
SW: At DispatchHealth, we’ve been innovating a number of capabilities to aid our team. This support includes finding ways to safely onboard patients (including evaluating patients to ensure DispatchHealth is the best for their needs), schedule and plan for the arrival of our care teams while optimizing resources to ensure we visit all patients that can be safely seen (logistics), and interact with our patients when in their homes (on-scene workflows). Technological aid for on-scene workflows includes everything from how to capture patient vitals to finding ways to document their charts, as well as how to discharge patients—ensuring we’ve provided a complete service with every interaction.
What kinds of solutions has DispatchHealth built out on top of traditional EHRs?
SW: DispatchHealth brings a number of innovations to traditional electronic/workflow systems, all of which enable our home-based services. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are built around a traditional healthcare model, where the patient schedules, arrives, and is checked into the medical facility where the service will be performed. DispatchHealth has had to figure out how to do all of this remotely, enabling our care teams to provide acute, in-home services. So, while we’ve been innovating the ability to safely onboard patients (risk stratification), logistics, and on-scene workflows ourselves, we’ve done it in a way that directly integrates with the traditional EHR we use for clinical documentation and revenue cycle management. We’ve also done it in a way that still allows us to integrate our clinical workflows into our partner’s EHR solutions.
How does DispatchHealth utilize virtual care to help broaden reach for their patients and partners?
SW: DispatchHealth leverages virtual care by bringing it into a patient’s home, where our medical technicians can interact directly with the patient. With the remote provider using commercial, off-the-shelf telepresentation equipment, we can capture vitals and facilitate a much more complete physical exam. This includes a wide variety of important clinical tools, such as otoscopes to allow us to check the ears and other tools that allow us to listen to heart and breath sounds. Our providers, provider partners, and patients see great value in this approach that goes beyond traditional virtual care services, where a patient would otherwise interact through a standard browser/mobile app without direct support or ability to capture real-time vitals.
What are the most impactful benefits of virtual care in clinical operations, and how can virtual care impact the efficacy of clinical operations, especially for low-acuity patients?
SW: I really think about this impact as being two-fold. First, we can look at how virtual care optimizes the provider’s experience by helping them practice at the top of their license with every patient interaction. With it, they’ll benefit from a complete experience that’s similar to direct patient interactions, even though they’re remote.
Likewise, virtual care optimizes the provider experience by bringing them to more patients. It’s almost like the experience a provider has in a facility, where patients come directly for service. However, virtual care also enables us to ensure the provider’s time is used effectively and efficiently, allowing them to care for a broader set of patients through a human-enabled approach.
Expanding upon some of the most impactful benefits of virtual care for clinical operations, specifically in expanding access and availability, virtual care and risk stratification technologies enable DispatchHealth to understand the acuity of patients at the time of onboarding. As a result, lower-acuity patients can be intentionally scheduled to a virtual care service, while higher-acuity patients are ensured direct access to an on-scene provider who can better manage the patient outcome. We consider this right-sizing care, ensuring the right provider sees the right patient. Telepresentation technology is an enabler of this care method, but it really comes in combination with appropriate risk stratification and logistics. This ensures we can see every patient that can safely be seen by using the right provider/patient experience.
Anything else you’d like to share about how DispatchHealth is leveraging technology and virtual care?
SW: As a healthcare IT veteran, I continue to feel excited about the future of healthcare being technology enabled. Sure, we’re in the middle of one of the more trying healthcare situations as a result of the pandemic, but it’s in times like these that we see how rapid innovation can help us solve some of these challenges—often in an accelerated fashion.
DispatchHealth is at the forefront of some of this innovation, both in how we’re providing in-home care for patients—including higher-acuity conditions—and also in how we’re changing existing virtual care services and leveraging technology to enable care for all patients across the acuity spectrum.
While the healthcare industry still has a lot to learn about new telecommunication technologies and virtual care, DispatchHealth is already taking the steps to leverage its potential for both low- and high-acuity patients. As we look towards the future, we’re predicting that the industry will continue to find new ways to utilize this virtual platform to help aid on-scene workflows, clinical operations, and value-based care. Get in touch with DispatchHealth for answers to your questions and more information!