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Market Report: Telehealth Vendors Need to Improve Integration with EMRs

October 11, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Within the telehealth vendor market, American Well and Avizia are currently the most widely adopted, yet very few virtual care vendors have delivered on their promises of integration, according to a new market report from Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research.

KLAS’s market report, “Telehealth Virtual Care Platforms 2017,” examines which vendors are supporting healthcare organizations’ abilities to expand virtual care.

With regard to how healthcare organizations are using telehealth platforms, KLAS identified three primary visit types—scheduled/patient-focused visits, on-demand/consumer-focused visits and tele-specialty consultations.

Healthcare organizations have found that virtual care platforms (VCPs) reduce delivery costs, increase access to new patients, and allow organizations to deliver better care. While these platforms are just one aspect of the rapidly evolving telehealth market, a number of vendors now offer virtual care platforms supporting diverse visit types and use cases. Some have only a handful of live organizations today, but all are growing, according to the KLAS report.

Working with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), KLAS reached out to healthcare organizations facilitating live video visits on virtual care platforms to provide an early look at who is helping organizations expand telehealth services today.

Currently, American Well and Avizia are the most widely adopted virtual care platforms. To date, American Well, Avizia, and VSee are the only vendors KLAS has validated as being used for all three key visit types mentioned above.

The KLAS report notes that most telehealth vendors originally built their solution for one specific visit type, rather than as an all-encompassing platform, and few are capable of supporting the expansion organizations are looking for. “InTouch Health, swyMed, and Avizia began with hardware to support the secure, reliable communication needed for provider-to-provider consultations; American Well and Carena offer provider network services to support on-demand/consumer-focused visits,” the KLAS researchers wrote in the report.

It was announced this week that Avizia acquired virtual care provider Carena.

KLAS researchers also note that for many organizations, telehealth is a new endeavor with an uncertain return on investment. “Those hoping for leadership and strategic guidance from their VCP vendor often find that guidance is limited to implementing existing product functionality. Vendors are generally supportive when called upon, but customers want a more proactive approach,” the KLAS researchers wrote, based on their interviews with healthcare organizations. “This is especially problematic when vendors support complex telehealth programs, as is the case with American Well, Avizia, and VSee.”

What’s more, the KLAS report states that Epic customers describe a “one-size-fits-all approach that leaves strategy largely up to customers.” Vendors with the highest ratings for guidance, such as InTouch Health, TruClinic, and Zipnosis, tend to offer less complex solutions for which provider expectations for guidance are typically tied to operational support, the KLAS report states.

In a survey of healthcare organizations conducted by KLAS and CHIME, which Healthcare Informatics covered here, the survey findings indicated that healthcare organizations cite integration as an ongoing concern when using telehealth platforms. Apart from Epic, vendors have not delivered on promises of integration, the KLAS report states. “Provider organizations want to be able to access electronic medical record (EMR) data from within their VCP, but interfaces are missing, and many organizations are frustrated with what it costs to achieve any sort of integration. A large number feel that integration costs are too high and that most vendors are missing standard interfaces,” the KLAS researchers wrote.

What’s more, unidirectional EMR integration is possible for some, but organizations say it is generally insufficient to meet their workflow needs. “A single respondent from American Well and two from Avizia have achieved bidirectional integration; however, these customers say this was achieved through extensive effort by their own organizations,” the KLAS report states.

KLAS also notes that several EMR vendors have developed or are developing telehealth capabilities, but only Epic had enough live organizations to meet the minimum sample threshold for inclusion in the report. As the market continues to grow, it is expected that many other EMR vendors' solutions will be represented in future KLAS reports.

Looking at KLAS overall scores for telehealth vendors, American Well, “a large and earlier developer of telehealth and virtual care platforms, with a comprehensive offering,” scored 79.8. “Customers praise their platform as functional and easy to use. American Well has grown rapidly, and a few customers feel they do not get the support they expect,” the report states.

InTouch Health, which is used solely for tele-specialty consultations and is praised for telestroke expertise, scored 89.8.  “Their reliability and strong customer support drive high satisfaction. The vendor is expanding to support other visit types,” according to the report.

The additional seven vendors KLAS included in the report had less than 15 unique respondents, which the organization refers to as “Below Konfidence.”

Avizia scored 88.3; Epic, the only EMR vendor in the report, scored 84.2; swyMed scored 87.7; TruClinic, a newer entrant to the telehealth space, scored 91.7 and Zipnosis scored 89.6. Carena and VSee had insufficient data, according to the report.

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