Telehealth not only likely will remain after the pandemic, it may help to drive quality for in-person visits, a speaker said Tuesday during a session of the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies Collaborative Care & Health Innovations Summit.  

Telehealth offers a way to make the patient experience “superior” to the inpatient visit, said William Russell, M.D., chief medical information officer and manager partner, Conviva Care Centers, which owns Conviva Physician Group. “We think technology can make the patient experience better and make the healthcare decision-making better,” he added during the afternoon session entitled “Transition & Coordination of Care During Crises.”

Among the benefits of telehealth is the ability to “infuse the engagement with information,” he said. This includes analytics, data points and a transcription of the visit for out-of-state family members and others.

“I think eventually we’ll use our remote technology to do in-person visits,” he said. 

Another panelist agreed that telehealth will be a part of healthcare in the future. “We’re going to see telehealth and virtual care persist,” said David Icke, vice president of digital health and analytics product for Humana. “It’s not going to stand by itself … It will be integrated into the care model.”

Interoperability

Interoperability was another topic of discussion during the session. Data exchange needs to be simpler and more broadly distributed, Icke said. It is important to connect to the provider workforce and service the patient in a seamless and private way, he said.

Everybody is hungry for data, he noted.  But “there’s a difference between data and insights. There’s a lot of work that has to be done infrastructurewise and plumbingwise wise to get it in the right place and break the silos that exist between providers and payers,” he said. 

Aaron Miri, chief information officer at Dell Medical School and University of Texas Health Austin, agreed. Data should move easily from one silo to another, he said. It also should adequately help to inform the provider at the point of care. 

“It’s not the actual data. It’s what does that mean to you,” he pointed out.

Information needs to be easily accessible but not overwhelming for the patient and families, Russell added. The goal should be a “Marcus Welby, M.D.” model of care, said Russell, alluding to the 1970s TV show about a family practitioner.

“That’s the model we’re pushing toward. It’s really back to the future,” he said.

A continuing challenge is medication list discrepancies, noted Karen Marie Wilding, senior director of quality and value-based care at the University of Maryland Medical System. 

“We know all of those medication variables … have a direct effect on a [hospital] readmission,” she said.

See additional coverage of the Collaborative Care & Health Innovations Summit from McKnight’s Senior Living.