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 telehealth solutions and how AMD has specifically adapted to the current 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 seamlessly integrate a telemedicine platform 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 interoperability and telemedicine – one that often goes unnoticed – is the consumer experience. How can various locations become settings of care? Take for instance, someone with multiple chronic conditions who doesn’t leave his or her home. 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 a 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 to accelerate worldwide, the need for telemedicine becomes greater. 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 EHR interoperability to device interoperability and how both sides of the encounter see, hear and capture relevant clinical content. Foley compared it to the early days when digital technologies such as EMR platforms were regionalized and had different features, but were all EMRs. Additionally, healthcare organizations and staff members faced significant growing pains as they went through moving a major part of their workflow 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.”
Extending your delivery of care model to have a virtual component does not require a redo of your health IT infrastructure – it does require Health IT vendors to be open and further permit a bi-directional interoperable exchange with other solution elements in the enterprise.
How AMD has adapted to the increased demand
In an effort to help clients continue business during these unprecedented times, AMD Global Telemedicine has made itself readily available across our global client base.
“For quite awhile now telehealth platforms and EHRs have been running in parallel with each other, as opposed to integrated with each other,” said Foley. “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 integrating 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 video conferencing – all of the key elements to achieving interoperability. It’s designed to integrate with EMRs, 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.