For more than a decade, Healthcare Informatics has honored those at the forefront of healthcare IT innovation with its Innovator Awards Program. As read in our January issue this year, the Healthcare Informatics Innovator Awards Program again recognized leadership teams from patient care organizations that have effectively deployed information technology in order to improve clinical, administrative, financial, or organizational performance. The Program also distinguishes vendor solution providers that have helped their clients shine in enhancing clinician workflow, exchanging data, or cutting down costs.
Indeed, this year the Innovator Awards program included two tracks for innovation recognition—one for healthcare provider organizations and one for technology solution providers, allowing both sides of the health IT spectrum to submit their examples of transformation. All vendor submissions were given to a selection of Healthcare Informatics expert editorial board members for careful review. The list of all provider and vendor winners in this year’s program could be seen right here.
Over the next few days, Healthcare Informatics will give readers the stories of the four vendor winners in the three above-mentioned categories. These technology solution providers are truly blazing the trail for innovation in the health IT vendor market, and we are proud to honor those whose combination of expertise and innovation are shaping the future of healthcare systems.
The 2017 co-winner in the category of Clinician Workflow is Avizia, a Reston, Va.-based company that offers a comprehensive telemedicine platform. Founder and CEO of Avizia, Mike Baird, spoke with Healthcare Informatics about the importance of embracing complexity in healthcare—and how that can translate into a seamless experience for the doctor and the patient.
Tell me about Avizia’s vision for clinician workflow in healthcare.
Mike Baird: We at Avizia are focused on delivering an end-to-end telehealth experience, making it easier for hospitals to allow any provider to connect with any patient in any place. That’s our goal—and to do it, we need to really look at and improve the flows of healthcare for patients.
Let’s face it, healthcare isn’t getting any less complex. In many respects, healthcare is still stuck in the 1980s. Doctors still use pagers and paper forms. Our mission is to help move them to the digital age—we want to make it seamless for doctors to deal with their workflows. For us, that translates into trying to figure out how to take the normal workflows and processes doctors do in healthcare on any given day and make them applicable in the digital world. That means having things like virtual waiting rooms, being able to easily access patient data, being able to gather the diagnostic information from different sources, and trying to mirror that in a virtual consult. That’s the core of what we do at Avizia.
How do you see the competitive marketplace in the clinician workflow area?
Telehealth, obviously, is a very exciting area these days. You hear about it all the time in the news. It is something that can solve a whole host of problems for providers and patients. But the vast majority of players in the telehealth space have focused on a very narrow niche of the market, that being direct-to-consumer. It’s understandable. It’s easier than other types of care. There are a lot of great companies out there that provide an app of some sort that allow you to talk to your doctor from home and address what we call low-acuity use cases. You can call up your doctor and say, “I have a sore throat,” or “I have a runny nose,” and get medical advice. It’s a fantastic offering. But where Avizia is different is that we focus almost solely on healthcare systems and the way that they deliver care. That means we have to focus on a different level of telehealth than many other companies in the space. It’s high-stakes telemedicine. We work on strokes and behavioral health offerings. We’re working on telehealth solutions in pediatrics and other specialty care. It’s a different mission, working right in the heart of the healthcare system—and one that differentiates us from the majority of players in the marketplace. We believe there is great value in ways to better deliver specialty care, ensuring that everyone, regardless of where they happen to be, has access to qualified specialists. And we believe there is value in providing that in a very patient-centric way.
To what do you attribute Avizia’s success?
We do our best to put our customers first—which, in our care, is the patient. We are always working to figure out new ways to make telehealth a seamless experience. We are successful because we embrace the complexity of healthcare instead of trying to ignore it. And it’s important. If you are going to solve healthcare problems from inside of the hospital, you have to jump in with both feet. You have to accept that you are going to have to interact with electronic health records (EHRs), different systems, different devices and scopes, and the different infrastructures. You have to deal with challenges like, “Is there wireless available in this hospital or not?” or “What PACS system are you using?” or “What about your e-prescription platform?” Because you’ll have to integrate into those systems to get the job done.
There’s so much complexity in healthcare and hospitals need partners that can help them figure out these new needs and experiences. We need to find new ways to increase the reach of care, lower the cost, and improve the overall quality of care. We see tremendous change in healthcare policy that make it difficult sometimes for health systems to figure out the best way to deliver care. We see our job as partnering closely with healthcare institutions to help them solve for that.
Our product ensures that a patient in a rural area can have access to a qualified neurologist and have their life saved in the case of a stroke emergency. Our product allows a worried parent to use their phone to do a consult from the comfort of home when their child has a fever. Our system works across very different service lines.
Providing care for a stroke is very different from something that dermatology does. So, by embracing all that complexity, we are able to deliver a product that lets the hospital have the simplicity of working with a single vendor, to scale in an efficient way, and revolutionize the way they deliver healthcare. And that allows the idea of a telehealth or virtual medicine experience to feel very much the same as if you were walking in to see the doctor for an in-patient visit. That’s really what differentiates us.
What is your vision for the future—both in terms of challenges and opportunities—when it comes to clinician workflow?
Our job is to drive innovation in the marketplace. We view that as our responsibility. So there are a lot of different challenges and opportunities. One big one for us is to work closely with different EHR vendors to try to make our solution as integrated as possible with the workflows in the hospital. If we are going to try to mirror an in-person experience in the digital world, that means we have to fit in very tightly with how that in-person experience is evolving—we need to know the way doctors are doing their jobs when it comes to any use case.
Another challenge is trying to deliver products that are the right cost. We try very hard to deliver high quality healthcare in an efficient manner, and we do our best to innovate in such a way that we can deliver a product that is extremely advanced from a technical standpoint yet at the right price point so that hospitals can have more access to their patients.
The complexity, of course, remains a challenge. We work with a lot of different systems and devices and it’s not always easy to integrate all of them into one platform. But it’s also a challenge to try to convince the industry as a whole to deliver care in a different way. Luckily, consumer demand is driving telehealth very strongly, particularly millennials. And, frankly, every patient is looking for better care. Together, they are all pushing for new technologies that can help drive that.
But when we talk about future and opportunities, we also should mention the importance of not just covering episodic care but addressing chronic care needs. People need to see specialists. Certainly, there are times you need to do that in person. But, for high quality care, whether it’s a patient with diabetes, obesity issues, someone in an oncology setting or what have you, chronic care is a growing issue in our country. And if we are going to truly be patient-centric, we need to provide tools that enable healthcare providers to work around the life of the patient, as opposed to the systems of the healthcare center. It’s a great opportunity for Avizia to figure out ways that any provider can talk to any patient anywhere—and really bring healthcare into the 21st century.