This article was originally published in September 2020 but was updated in June 2022.

When it comes to telehealth, interoperability has various layers. To better understand the critical role interoperability plays in telemedicine, we spoke with Tom Foley, the Vice President of Growth at AMD Global Telemedicine. He also touched on the current demand for integrated telehealth solutions and how AMD has specifically adapted to the healthcare landscape with its telemedicine offerings.

What does interoperability mean for telemedicine?

Telehealth is more than a simple video visit between doctor and patient. It’s also about enhancing your delivery of care model via a digital front door and understanding how to develop seamless telemedicine integration with other digital technologies to ensure data flows in real time in the midst of an examination, according to Foley.

“The importance here is that when you build a virtual care delivery model, you have to find ways to simulate the clinical encounter as if that patient was right in front of you,” he said. “How do I collect key vitals, use a stethoscope, and otoscope, even conduct EKG or ultrasound? Just as important, how does the provider on the far end of the engagement control the devices, capture data and images, and insert that into the patient’s chart? That is a high-acuity encounter, demanding strong interoperability discipline.”

Another talking point surrounding telemedicine integration — one that often goes unnoticed — is the consumer experience. How can various locations become settings of care? Take, for instance, people with multiple chronic conditions who don’t leave their homes. A telehealth solution in the home certainly increases access to care; however, device interoperability creates the high acuity that is necessary to simulate an encounter as if conducted in a brick-and-mortar facility. If it’s important to capture vitals within a classic brick-and-mortar setting, then it is just as important to do so in an integrated telemedicine virtual setting. There is value in conducting just a video visit; however, it doesn’t meet the needs of the plurality of the visits.

How the current demand for telemedicine has impacted interoperability

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for integrative telemedicine only grows. And with this demand for virtual care visits, there’s a major emphasis on transitioning telemedicine to a standard part of everyday care. This expands the need from telemedicine EHR integration to device interoperability and how both sides of the encounter see, hear, and capture relevant clinical content. Foley compared it with the early days when digital technologies such as EMR platforms were regionalized and had different features but were all still EMRs. Additionally, healthcare organizations and staff members faced significant growing pains as they went through moving a major part of their workflows to a digital format. Telemedicine and telehealth are experiencing a similar path of expansion. It’s not about the video; it’s the coupling of the clinical workflows and the technology that maximize the quality of the encounter.

“CMS has presented payment models to support the broad use of telehealth, even in the home, and Congress seems to be reinforcing that move with legislation,” Foley explained. “At this point, it’s not about telehealth; it’s about the virtual visit experience for both the provider and the patient. It becomes critical how we look at the overall integration of respective services. The question is, how do we seamlessly integrate the virtual care delivery model?”

Interoperability in telemedicine means building a virtual care delivery model.

How AMD has adapted to the increased demand for integrative telemedicine

 In an effort to help clients continue business during these unprecedented times, AMD Global Telemedicine has made itself readily available as an integrated telehealth partner across our global client base.

“For quite a while now, telehealth platforms and EHRs have been running in parallel with each other, as opposed to integrated with each other,” Foley said. “It puts the physician in a swivel chair in the context of being able to document in an EHR and a virtual visit. Now it’s about understanding how we integrate with the top EHR platforms to remove the need for the swivel chair and create that seamless experience for the provider and consumer.”

AMD has also taken advantage of developing telemedicine integration with third-party medical devices beyond its own to allow platforms to remain consistent with the tools and resources they already have. This ensures no limitations and strengthens partnerships.

AMD’s AGNES Connect® cloud-based telemedicine platform aggregates data from connected medical devices and real-time videoconferencing — all the key elements to achieving interoperability. It’s designed for telemedicine EHR integration to deliver 100% live access to patients from any remote location and ensure complete physician mobility. As telemedicine continues to become more of a “must-have” than a “nice-to-have” platform, finding one that is specifically designed to help customers reach interoperability becomes essential.

As a global leader in device interoperability, AMD takes pride in its approach to simulating the digital encounter as if it were an in-person experience. By focusing on the immediacy of what current clients need versus what might be necessary to grow the market, the team can deliver a customized approach that allows customers to follow a pathway toward a more convenient, optimal care delivery. To learn more about our focus on interoperability, contact us directly today.