Virtual Care is Transforming the Way Physicians Collaborate and Patients Interact With Their Providers

By The SHSMD Team posted 07-09-2018 16:47


In response to consumer demands for simple, affordable service, Jefferson Health—a health system in the Philadelphia region that includes 14 hospitals—is building a value-based care business model through a robust telehealth program entitled JeffConnect that spans the care continuum. (See figure 1).

The JeffConnect Solution
Using smartphones, tablets, or computers equipped with a webcam, JeffConnect allows physicians to collaborate on care and consumers to see providers without having to go to an office, clinic, or hospital. Via secure online video, patients meet “face-to-face” with providers for a broad range of issues, including minor illnesses and symptoms of chronic conditions.

Why Telehealth?
“The overarching goal of JeffConnect is to quickly deliver comprehensive, high-quality, coordinated care to patients when and where they want it,” said Judd Hollander, M.D., senior vice president for health care delivery innovation at Thomas Jefferson University. National research indicates that ‘see me now’ is even more important to patients than price or being seen by their established provider.1

“Although the prevailing wisdom is that rural America has access problems because there are not enough primary care physi¬cians or specialists, the fact of the matter is that urban America also has access prob-lems because there are not enough available appointments. As healthcare moves from fee-for-service toward value-based care, the real issue is the pace at which we get there,” Dr. Hollander said.

“Every institution has a choice to make: Do nothing and continue to rely on fee-for-service payments, which makes the most sense from a short-term revenue point of view; or deliver less expensive, high-quality care to patients, and sacrifice a little revenue now because reimbursement for telehealth services is limited but predicted to grow. As an enterprise we decided to do the latter and position ourselves for the future.”

Today all JeffConnect providers are employed by Jefferson Health, which means better care coordination when compared with telemedicine companies that employ physicians from across the country, according to Danica Stone, telehealth project manager at Jefferson Health. It is one of the only telehealth programs in the United States staffed entirely by local providers. “For scheduled telehealth visits, patients will often see their own provider. For on-demand visits, individuals are given the option to connect with Jefferson Health providers who are licensed in the state they indicate they’re in at the time of the visit,” Stone said.

The strategy has produced some impressive results, including a Net Promoter Score of greater than 70. According to surveys of all patients who used the telehealth service between 2015 and 2017, more than 80 percent agree they received the same level of care as an in-person visit.

Kp3figure1.pngey Insights

  • Build it right. Carefully consider data structure and ensure integration into the electronic health record.

  • Focus on access rather than geography. Although telehealth has its place in rural communities with provider shortages, many urban and suburban areas are also experiencing same-day appointment shortages.

  • Care coordination is more critical than established relationships. Consumers today value quick, coordinated care more than receiving all their care from the same physician, hospital, or health system.

This blog features interviews with:

Judd Hollander, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health
Care Delivery Innovation
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

Danica Stone
Telehealth Project Manager
Jefferson Health
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 955-5312

1Advisory Board. 2014. What Consumers Want from Primary Care?