Digital Health Frontiers: Virtual Care’s Evolution with Dr. David Shulkin
For the inaugural episode of our Digital Health Frontiers podcast, we had the honor of hosting Dr. David Shulkin, former Secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Shulkin shared his deep insights on the evolution of virtual care, its critical role during the pandemic, its potential for addressing clinician shortages, and the necessity of regulatory support for telehealth’s future. A must-listen for healthcare professionals looking to shape the future of healthcare delivery. Listen in or read the transcript below!
Read the Transcript
Welcome to Digital Health Frontiers, where we explore the cutting edge of healthcare technology, policy, and innovation, hosted by Mike Brando, President and COO of Caregility. Today we’re honored to have a distinguished guest, Dr. David Shulkin, whose career has been at the forefront of healthcare transformation. Dr. Shulkin has served in several key leadership roles, most notably as the ninth Secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and prior to that as the undersecretary of health for the VA. During his tenure, Dr. Shulkin made significant strides in expanding access to care for our nation’s Veterans. Through the innovative use of telehealth services as a board-certified Internist and a widely respected authority in the field of healthcare management, Dr. Shulkin’s insights into the evolution of virtual care are both invaluable and timely. Please join us in welcoming Dr. David Shulkin to Digital Health Frontiers.
Hi, Dr. Shulkin. Thank you for joining our podcast. It’s great to have you. You have so much experience. I look forward to the conversation.
David Shulkin, MD:
Mike, I am glad to be with you today.
So Dr. Shulkin, based on your extensive experience, especially with the Veterans Administration, how do you see the evolution of virtual care impacting patients across the US, particularly in underserved areas?
Well, there’s no doubt that this is a technology that’s been around a long time. It was dramatically unutilized until the pandemic and then, out of necessity, became essentially a mainstay of much of the way that we delivered healthcare. And, unfortunately, now it’s sort of coming backwards and people are returning to the old ways. I think that what we saw in the pandemic and what we now know is that healthcare can be delivered either in person or virtually, but the virtual option, when it’s most appropriate, really does provide access to care to many populations that have struggled to get access to care not only in rural settings, but those who have disabilities, those who have cost issues with transportation, and those who quite frankly wouldn’t be receiving care like in tele-behavioral health if it weren’t for the anonymity and the convenience of being able to get care when and where they want it.
We definitely saw that during COVID; the extensive use of virtual care across many modalities, not just the Teladoc in your home version with the extensions due to expire. What are your thoughts on whether there’ll be an action taken this year or a concern for the future of virtual care?
Well, you’re right, Mike, the regulatory relief that was given to telehealth has been extended only to December of 2024. That’s important because it gets us past the election in November, and then I think that there clearly is an expectation that there’s bipartisan interest in extending, if not expanding this regulatory relief in telehealth. And there are many bills that have been introduced in terms of the Telehealth Improvement Act. Most of them have strong bipartisan support, but I think, as most people see, it’s a challenge to get almost any piece of regulation or law through Congress at this point just because of the political nature and the divisiveness over so many of the key issues that frankly Americans just wish that Congress could work together on to get done. But I do have confidence that these regulations will not expire and go away, but that they will be extended and in fact enhanced and improved to allow telehealth to operate in the way that frankly, it contributes positively to American healthcare.
Yeah, I think especially with the shortage of care providers, it really helped to allow cross-border use and people to really work across multiple hospitals at the same time. So, we hope that it gets extended as well. During your time at the VA, I’m sure you’ve learned some key lessons that could probably be applied to the commercial space. Do you have any thoughts on how what you learned and experienced at the VA can be applied to improve virtual care and patient outcomes?
Yeah, I entered the VA largely because of VA’s inability to provide adequate access to Veterans. Veterans were waiting too long for care, many of them not able to frankly get the care that they had earned because of their service and their sacrifices. And so, in order to solve that — dealing with all of the issues that you mentioned, particularly workforce shortages and the fact that many Veterans live in rural settings out of choice where you don’t have many healthcare professionals at all — we relied heavily upon virtual care in order to improve wait times to improve access. And I think part of what I learned, again out of necessity, was that even though I was the head of the agency having the ability to utilize federal supremacy, which means the ability of the federal government to go above state law, I still struggled with this cross-licensure, cross-state issue because when I tried to implement federal supremacy laws, the states challenged it.
I ultimately needed to ask the President to personally intervene, which I did, and the President did intervene, and we were able to get federal supremacy so that VA was able to operate across all 50 states. And I saw the impact that that allowed us to make, where we had healthcare professional expertise to where Veterans needed it throughout the country. And the playbook that we used in terms of this regulatory relief and being able to use telehealth in the way that I just described was actually the playbook that CMS used in the pandemic. When they acted very quickly and decisively to initiate this regulatory relief, they were able to follow the playbook that we did in the VA. And so, I felt very comfortable that that was going to be very positive for the country. We had watched that, several years earlier, make such a big difference among our Veteran population.
Well, like you, I hope calmer heads prevail on the regulatory front, basically assuming that something does happen. How do you envision the future role of virtual care and what should healthcare providers do now to prepare to take more advantage of virtual care?
Well, there’s no doubt in my mind that virtual care is going to be a permanent and important part of the way that we deliver healthcare still. Unfortunately, access to care is a big issue, and telehealth not only provides easier access to care and frankly, in many cases, more efficient access, but some of the models that I think are going to develop are that it will allow an easier way to provide interdisciplinary or team-based care, which I think for many chronic illnesses is really an essential component that’s missing from the healthcare model as we know it today. So, imagine a primary care provider taking care of their patient using a telehealth model. They need to bring in a behavioral healthcare provider, bring in a specialist into the discussion, bring in ancillary healthcare professionals, maybe addressing social determinants issues, and you can actually bring all those people together in a model much like you see happening in a Teams meeting or in a Zoom setting, and even think about bringing the caregiver into the model, family members and peer support.
So I think the future of telehealth is not only going to be to address access, but to really advance the model of care. And of course, I believe that you can also personalize healthcare much easier using a virtual model, matching what the patient needs to the provider’s competence, but also the type of provider — whether it’s to match gender, culture, educational backgrounds — so that patients get the type of experience that they feel that they do best with and that frankly that they deserve to have. So, I think that we’re just in the early phases of integrating technology into the patient care model. Of course, think about the implications of AI running in the background of telehealth visits and bringing in information that both the provider and the patient should be aware of and new findings and new diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities that present themselves because of the artificial intelligence and the natural language processing that can go on at the same time.
So I think we are in the early innings, but that’s not to say that virtual care is going to replace traditional care. I think that we’re really looking at a hybrid model. I think that there are absolutely times that patients need to be physically examined where touch is important, where face-to-face interactions are going to be needed, where procedures are going to have to be done, lab tests and others that will need to be done in person. So, I think the healthcare providers and the payers who think about integrated hybrid systems of care are probably the ones that I think are headed in the right direction.
Absolutely. You mentioned social determinants is definitely being a factor. The digital divide is also a challenge and I guess the lack of trust in some communities of healthcare systems and healthcare providers. What do you think virtual care can do in improving the accessibility and the equitable distribution of healthcare for those?
Well, look, I think that sometimes the stereotypes of different people and their use of technology is probably beyond what the reality is. I hear people say that older people are technophobic and aren’t using smartphones and internet, and frankly, that’s just not true. I think that people are quickly adapting to the new world of technology, and those that haven’t, it’s because they’re not offered the opportunity to learn or to provide access. But there are many government programs providing significantly discounted access to internet or actually free. There are other health plans that are helping people connect in a technical way. And quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in a humorous way, but when I am in many cities and you see the significant issue with homelessness around the country, and of course there are 45,000 homeless Veterans, even many homeless people you can see have their smartphones with them, and it’s in fact their only way that they can stay connected and frankly to reach them and for them to reach back into the medical system. So, I think that technology, it may not be the answer for everybody, and I think that a good healthcare system has to have numerous ways of communicating and interacting with their patients, but I think technology really is increasingly the important foundation on which to build future models of care based upon integrating technology.
Sure. It’s interesting. We’ve had a number of our customers implement virtual nursing programs, and what we’re seeing, and it’s a little bit surprising, is a huge uptick in patient satisfaction when they’re in a hybrid care model. And we dug into that a little bit, and it really seems to be because the virtual care giver has more time to spend in a face-to-face, albeit through a video call with the patient, and the patients feel like they’re getting more attention. So, what are your thoughts on that whole idea of improving quality of care in this hybrid model and what technology do you think will even enhance that more?
Well, it doesn’t surprise me that you’re finding that there is an increased satisfaction with the customer experience. But look, when people, particularly in hospital settings, need assistance, they want quick access to care, right? If you’re in discomfort, if you need help with something, you don’t want to be waiting as that call button goes off and five, ten minutes go by because nurses or other people are busy with other patients that may need their help. So, if the system provides you with more immediate access that can address your issue, frankly, that is what people are going to describe as a better experience. And I do think that this hybrid model is really the way to do it. If you can get quick access to somebody to speak to them who can sort out whether you need somebody in your room at that time or whether the issue can be addressed virtually, I think then that really is the way to design the optimal type of patient experience.
So we talked a little bit about policymakers. If you had the opportunity to talk to lawmakers, what would your recommendations be? And hopefully you do have access to lawmakers and you’re whispering in their ears. What types of things would you like to see happen that would really help us grow virtual care?
Yeah, I tend to be, particularly when it comes to policy and large-scale government programs, I tend to be one who thinks about when you’re going to legislatively change something, when you’re going to put taxpayer resources into something, you should be looking for big significant change, not incremental change. All of these bills that add a little tiny piece of improvement may be important, but I don’t think that’s the way, at least when I approach government and legislation. So, when it comes to telehealth, I’m actually in favor of starting with the patient. What does the patient need? How do you provide them the right type of medical care and access? And that would mean, quite frankly, the way that I put it together, that all of these state regulatory requirements, separate licensing requirements, separate state restrictions, frankly don’t serve the patient very well, and in fact represent barriers to the delivery of care.
So I would go for a design of a system that actually says, let’s put first what the patient needs, and let’s put second the protection of the current business models and the protection of state rights. Now, look, I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I understand the architects of the constitution inherently wanted there to be state federal tension so that there wasn’t a centralization and a power among the federal government. And I understand that. But healthcare, I think one can argue should be somewhat different. And if somebody is not able to get access to care, whether it’s behavioral care or specialized medical care, because there aren’t professionals, I hate to see state regulatory requirements in place that frankly, I view as mostly protectionism of current business models. So, I’m more in favor of radical change. But one thing you learn when you spend time in Washington, you can’t always get your way.
And compromise, which is a dirty word in Washington, in my mind, is still the only way to govern. You never get your way completely. So, you do look for those opportunities to support the bills that will get you the most bang for the buck, which means make the most difference for patients. And it probably won’t be a wholesale elimination of state’s rights. I think that’s probably unrealistic. But what I like that I’m seeing are the pacts, the consortiums of state licensing. You see the psych pact happening, psychologists, you see the nursing pacts that are happening. There are some medical licensing pacts. Although they are very complicated, burdensome, difficult to use, I think they can be improved. And I think that telehealth, frankly, can be an exception to many of the regulations that we’ve had. And CMSs has implemented a number of them, but I think there are others that are important for us to look at as well.
Sure. Well, that’s great. And David, thank you so much for joining us today. This has really, hopefully been insightful for folks who are going to watch the podcast. This is such an important topic. We’ve been helping customers, and our philosophy is to get care to wherever the patient is. And it sounds like that’s what you propose as far as the lawmakers are concerned. And I hope they listen to that, and I hope we get some movement this year. So, thank you very much for joining the podcast. I appreciate it.
No, listen. Thank you. I think your comments right there are exactly right. This has never really been a technologic issue, and certainly with what you described, I’m confident that the technology is there. This is really something that is more us challenging ourselves. Can we do better for patients? And do we have the courage to take the steps necessary to do that? But this is very possible to do in the near future, and I appreciate all the work that you and Caregility are doing to advance the model of care.
Telehealth News Roundup: The EASE Act, H@H Risk, and ViVE
Here is a glimpse into some of the latest headlines grabbing attention in the world of digital health and telehealth news:
The Equal Access to Specialty Care Everywhere Act
On January 30, 2024, the Equal Access to Specialty Care Everywhere (EASE) Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of US House representatives. The proposed legislation advocates for the creation of a virtual specialty network to expand access to specialist care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, using Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) funds earmarked to “test models and innovations that support access to integrated specialty care across the patient journey,” as Anuja Vaidya reports.
Might this be a step towards a national framework for virtual care access that extends beyond state borders, similar to what’s seen in Veterans’ care?
Meanwhile, the clock is winding down on Acute Hospital Care at Home funding, slated to run out at the end of 2024. Designed to free up bed capacity by allowing select Medicare and Medicaid patients to recover at home, Hospital at Home is one of the few levers providers have to offset emergency department overcrowding. Concern about the future of the program is giving providers pause on implementing the solution. NBC reporter Erika Edwards notes that growing interest in the program may garner it a two-year extension or even permanency by the end of this year.
Last but not least, the 2024 ViVE conference is officially a wrap, with recaps from the conference pouring in. Telehealth was a recurring theme in HealthLeaders editor Eric Wicklund’s write-up of five key takeaways from healthcare’s flashiest tradeshow. What do nurses in need of help, the call for more care at home, and health AI enablement all have in common? You guessed it: virtual care.
For solid evidence of the benefits of telehealth, look no further than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Long considered a national leader in virtual care adoption, VA telehealth services reflect an all-in commitment to using technology to enhance healthcare access, capacity, quality, and experience for Veterans, their families, and caregivers.
Like their compatriots in the public healthcare sector, VA facilities saw a tremendous uptick in telehealth utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Veterans’ use of audio-only virtual visits has since leveled off, video-based telehealth use by Veterans has surged by 2,300% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to recent research.
VA Telehealth Trends
VA telehealth services make care accessible in Veterans’ homes and communities in multiple ways, including:
Routine, scheduled primary care appointments and screenings
Non-urgent, ad-hoc ambulatory care for medical advice and medication support
Acute care programs such as tele-critical care and tele-stroke
Remote patient monitoring for complex chronic condition management at home
Mental health support for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more
Preventing suicide, which disproportionately impacts Veterans, is one core objective the VA seeks to meet by improving Veteran access to care, in part through telehealth. In 2021, more than 98% of VA mental health providers conducted at least one video visit with a Veteran, demonstrating how integral virtual access is to providing much-needed care to those who have served our country.
The VA also recognizes telehealth as an essential element in improving healthcare accessibility for rural and unhoused Veterans. In 2021, the VA reported a 2,800% increase in virtual care provided to highly-rural Veterans. The national health system also distributed more than 57,000 tablets to Veterans without access to video-capable devices or the internet to support virtual visits in 2021.
The VA’s commitment to telehealth ensures that Veterans can connect and receive care anytime and anywhere. Here are a few lessons that private sector healthcare organizations can draw from the VA’s experience.
It takes a village: A multi-faceted approach to care that offers in-person and remote engagement opportunities is table stakes in ensuring health equity. The VA’s inclusion of community partners and non-traditional care sites in promoting Veterans’ health contributes to the organization’s success and should be echoed throughout the industry.
Overcoming state licensure issues: The VA’s authority to conduct telehealth services across state lines, bypassing state-specific licensure requirements, helps increase Veteran access to care. Amplifying similar legislative efforts within the private sector could reap similar results for larger patient populations.
Patient enablement in the home: The VA’s track record with in-home remote patient monitoring programs and device distribution to support unhoused Veteran access to care offers other healthcare organizations a blueprint to draw from for emerging hospital-at-home care models.
The VA continues to make strides in telehealth services. As stakeholders with the VA’s Office of Connected Care put it, “Telehealth is being integrated into core operations throughout VA, with adoption growing remarkably over the past several years. As we now look to a post-pandemic future, we anticipate continued growth of telehealth utilization across VA, making quality VA healthcare more accessible, convenient, and efficient.”
The Veterans Health Administration endorsed a five-year strategic vision for connected care with goals to enhance Veteran digital engagement, deliver healthcare without walls, and solidify connected care’s foundations. “This vision includes deploying digital tools that allow Veterans to connect with VA and their healthcare services at any time, delivering even more care into the home through video telehealth and remote monitoring, expanding clinic capacity by using telehealth to match supply and demand across VA’s expansive geographic footprint, enhancing Veteran access to rare national expertise irrespective of the Veteran’s location in the country, and much more.”
Caregility is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in support of telehealth initiatives aimed at enhancing care for Veterans, their families, and caregivers.
Staffing shortages, clinician burnout, and overwhelmed new hires – sound familiar? The same challenges hindering hospitals across the nation prompted the team at OhioHealth to create Virtual Nursing “smart rooms” to help stem the tides of nurse attrition. Executives from the health system and their technology partners recently shared their experience getting the emerging care model off the ground in the webinar “Clinical Workflow Optimization: The Role of Virtual Nursing.”
Arika Thomas, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Nursing for Inpatient Services at OhioHealth’s new Pickerington Methodist Hospital; Erica Braun, MFA, User Experience and Product Design Advisor for OhioHealth; and Tom Gutman, MBA, Senior Consultant of Simulation Technology for OhioHealth, joined eVideon Clinical Implementation Director Erin Pangallo, MS, BSN, RN, and Caregility Clinical Program Manager Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN, to discuss the health system’s approach.
Using Smart Room Technology to Deliver Virtual Care
Each “smart room” is powered by the Vibe Health by eVideon smart room platform, which includes the Insight digital whiteboard, Aware digital door sign, Companion bedside tablet, and interactive Engage TV solution. These solutions elevate the inpatient experience with personalized communication, tailored education, and self-service tools that improve patient satisfaction, loyalty, and outcomes while alleviating non-clinical responsibilities for bedside nurses.
Integration with the Caregility Cloud™ virtual care platform allows the OhioHealth team to seamlessly facilitate bedside Virtual Nursing and Virtual Patient Observation sessions via the footwall TV. Together, the platforms create a digital health hub in every patient room that allows hybrid care teams (virtual and in-person) to work together seamlessly to provide patients with the highest level of care and meaningful interaction throughout their care journey.
A Co-Caring Approach to Nursing
OhioHealth’s Virtual Nursing journey was methodical and collaborative, beginning with a co-design phase that involved an in-depth review of internal workflows alongside floor nurses. This phase aimed to identify and eliminate “pebbles in the shoe” of RNs, as Thomas puts it – small, yet significant inefficiencies in workflows and routines. Following a nine-month pilot at two sister site units, the program was refined and launched at Pickerington, with the hospital now reaping the benefits of this innovative approach to nursing.
The co-caring model, a cornerstone of OhioHealth’s program, blends traditional and virtual nursing roles to create a hybrid care team. This model includes bedside RNs and LPNs handling direct patient care, patient support assistants (PSAs) managing daily living activities, and virtual nurses focusing on administrative tasks, patient education, and care coordination. Virtual nurses support 15 to 20 patients assigned to their nursing team.
Just two months into the program, OhioHealth’s collaborative approach has led to significant improvements in patient and nurse satisfaction, with nurses reporting reduced stress and more time for bedside care. Patients appreciate the added care provided by virtual nurses.
“Something that we've noticed is now that nurses have support with that admission, our dead-bed time has shrunk.”
User Experience and Product Design Advisor, OhioHealth
“We’re also looking at usability and frequency metrics,” said Braun. “Caregility has a great backend dashboard we’re monitoring to see how many calls our virtual nurses are taking in a day, on certain days, and at certain times of day. Right now, we have two virtual nurses per shift. We’re trying to assess, as we grow at Pickerington and beyond, is this enough? Are they covering too many or too few patients? We’re really trying to understand their productivity to inform how we could scale.”
How to Start and Scale Virtual Nursing
During the discussion, speakers offered advice to other health systems looking to get started with or scale Virtual Nursing.
“Our recommendation is to start with a big win that’s easy to implement,” said Cassidy. “Once you have that one device set up in one patient’s room and one virtual nurse, you can carry out simple workflows. Think about admissions and discharges as well as hourly rounding and assessments. Those are where you’ll see the biggest time savings. You may also see some reduction in incremental overtime by taking some of that heavy documentation off the bedside.”
“Then you can move over to more complex workflows,” Cassidy continued. “You can have multiple use cases using the same device in that patient’s room at the same time. You can have a wound care nurse go in to do their assessment and on top of that, you can have someone virtually observing the patient in a sitter format. Expanding that model is a big lift but it’s also needed. Making that “room of the future” allows you to impact care throughout the entire organization, not just one unit or facility.”
Elevating the Standard of Care
The success of Pickerington Methodist Hospital’s Virtual Nursing program is a testament to the power of innovation and collaboration in healthcare. The hospital has set a new standard for nursing care that better addresses staffing shortages, enhances nurse and patient satisfaction, and improves overall care quality. As the program scales, its impact is expected to grow, offering a blueprint for other institutions seeking to embrace virtual nursing “smart room” technology.
OhioHealth’s journey from conceptualization to successful implementation highlights the transformative potential of technology in healthcare. By prioritizing co-design, embracing technological solutions, and fostering a collaborative care model, the health system has not only enhanced care delivery but also positioned itself as a leader in healthcare innovation.
Do you have questions about Virtual Nursing? Set up a discovery call with one of our specialists today!
Hospital of the Future & the Race for the Patient Footwall
Budgetary constraints and staffing challenges are compelling healthcare organizations to rethink their operational strategies to find new ways for burned-out care teams to work smarter, not harder.
One strategy that providers are employing to drive efficiency, standardize processes, and elevate the standard of care in inpatient settings is the adoption of hybrid care models. These care models introduce remote clinicians and digital health tools at the bedside. Leading health systems such as Houston Methodist, OhioHealth, and UMass Memorial Health are among those planting the first “smart hospital” and “hospital of the future” flags, introducing high-end technologies in every patient room.
As healthcare organizations bring telehealth, artificial intelligence (AI), interactive patient consoles (IPCs), and other health IT resources to the hospital bedside, the race for a space on the patient footwall is heating up. And hospitals looking to differentiate themselves and improve operations through the adoption of innovative technologies are rightfully being more discerning in their product evaluations.
Increasingly, providers are favoring a platform approach to underpinning infrastructure in an effort to keep solution sprawl and fragmentation at bay. Recent research from the Health Management Academy reveals that 62% of leading health systems want their tech capabilities (across categories) to be met by a single vendor.
Signify Research similarly observed a shift in provider preferences towards solutions that cater to broader use cases. “Historically, endpoint solutions have been departmental, siloed, point-focused products (hardware-centric), however, enterprise-scale solutions with a focus on platform-centric and configurable workflows have become increasingly prominent.” Continuous monitoring solutions are cited as a prime example of this shift from point solutions to comprehensive platforms that not only centralize but also simplify resource administration and management.
The ability of bedside technology to integrate seamlessly with existing hospital systems, especially the Electronic Health Record (EHR), is crucial for securing a coveted spot on the patient footwall. A platform’s ability to seamlessly integrate with a broad spectrum of peripheral systems further supports consolidated solutioning, allowing care teams to pilot adjacent technologies more easily.
Case in point: In the realm of virtual care, new telehealth edge devices like Caregility’s APS200 Duo enable healthcare organizations to introduce AI capabilities using the same device that supports audio and video feeds used for virtual patient engagement and observation. The device’s ability to integrate with IPCs and smart TVs in the patient room allows care teams to leverage existing technology investments during implementation.
As healthcare institutions continue to integrate advanced technologies into care delivery, the importance of unified, platform-based solutions becomes ever more apparent. This strategic approach not only simplifies infrastructure but also significantly boosts care teams’ ability to deliver personalized, efficient, and high-quality care at scale.
Interested in learning more about how hospitals are leveraging enterprise telehealth and IPC platform integrations to support forward-thinking care initiatives? Join clinical experts from OhioHealth, Vibe Health, and Caregility for the webinar “Clinical Workflow Optimization: The Role of Virtual Nursing” taking place on Thurs., Feb. 8, from 2-3 pm EST.
Caregility Helps Transform Inpatient Care with New AI-Enhanced Telehealth Systems
The intelligent telehealth edge devices support multiple audio and video streams at the bedside, enabling providers to deploy advanced hybrid care delivery models at scale.
EATONTOWN, NJ (January 11, 2024) – In a significant leap forward for inpatient care, Caregility is proud to introduce a new class of adaptive telehealth edge devices designed to seamlessly support hybrid care models that bring remote clinicians and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into bedside workflows at the point of care.
The groundbreaking APS200 Duo is the company’s first dual-camera, all-in-one system with onboard edge computing and a powerful dedicated graphics engine. The APS200 Duo includes a wide-angle camera for remote patient observation and a high-definition 40x power zoom camera for virtual nursing programs and remote patient examinations.
The second-generation APS100 Pro is a reimagined all-in-one system with a wide-angle camera for remote patient observation. The versatile APS100 Pro can be expanded with the APS FlexCam, an external high-definition 40x power zoom video camera for virtual nursing programs and remote patient examinations. The APS100 Pro and APS FlexCam feature flexible wiring options, including Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE+) support.
These advanced telehealth edge devices, specifically built for inpatient settings, not only offer superior audio and video capabilities but also open new avenues for hybrid healthcare delivery, offsetting clinical staffing shortages and enhancing patient monitoring with AI-driven insights. The devices integrate with the award-winning Caregility Cloud™ virtual care platform to enable a multitude of clinical applications. Multiple audio and video streams from each telehealth endpoint can support concurrent clinical workflows such as continuous remote patient observation and ad hoc specialty consultations.
The AI-enhanced telehealth edge devices facilitate seamless virtual clinical interactions, enhancing the efficiency and quality of patient care and clinical team collaboration. The dual-camera configurations allow for virtual encounters and AI-supported continuous patient monitoring to be conducted in tandem, helping healthcare professionals detect and alert staff to unattended patient movement and vital sign changes that could lead to adverse events so care teams can intervene faster. Advanced microphone arrays and high-quality speakers provide realistic encounters and support acoustic listening AI applications such as ambient documentation for automated, structured EMR reports.
The APS200 Duo, APS100 Pro, and APS FlexCam represent a significant advancement in hospital-based telehealth, offering a new level of support to patients and acting as a workforce multiplier for healthcare providers. Key highlights include:
Built-in edge computing and Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth®, USB, and HDMI-CEC connectivity allow for easy AI and peripherals integrations.
Dual HD cameras provide 1080p resolution, ensuring clear and detailed visual interactions.
Night vision supports viewing in dark settings without disturbing the patient.
High-quality microphone arrays enable clear communication in noisy clinical environments.
Seamless integration with EMRs, Clinical Decision Support (CDS) platforms, connected devices, and more.
The FDA-registered Class 1 medical devices can integrate with digital TVs and Interactive Patient Console (IPC) systems in the patient room to maximize space and resources. The Caregility telehealth edge devices also include a wall-mounted vLert button that interfaces with the Caregility Clinical Notifications application, allowing bedside staff to initiate an on-demand session with a virtual nurse or remote clinician. Every Caregility device is self-healing, proactively monitored, and remotely managed to ensure reliability and minimize disruption to patient care.
Early market adopters are using APS200 Duo, APS100 Pro, and APS FlexCam devices to cost-effectively scale AI-enabled telehealth to every patient room.
OhioHealth recently installed 66 APS100 Pro telehealth devices as part of its Patient Room of the Future initiative at the health system’s new Pickerington Methodist Hospital. “From ordering meals to watching educational videos and managing medication schedules, the intuitive technology aims to provide a more personalized hospital stay,” said Tom Gutman, OhioHealth Senior Consultant of Learning Simulation. “The addition of a camera above the TV allows patients to speak virtually with nurses, specialists, or family members. The positive impact is evident to both staff and patients alike.”
UMass Memorial Health recently launched a similar initiative. “We plan to install the APS200 in our new 72-bed inpatient facility – our “hospital of the future” – for a variety of different use cases including e-sitting, virtual rounding, patient-family communication, and even tele-ICU level care,” said David Smith, UMass Memorial Health System Associate VP of Virtual Medicine. “The combination of form factor and advanced PTZ camera control is a sweet spot for the APS200. We wanted to be an early adopter after seeing the prototype and competitive price point. We envision this to be a standard of care for every bed across our healthcare system.”
“Our mission at Caregility is to continuously elevate the art of what’s possible in care delivery to improve the experience for both patients and providers,” said Bin Guan, Caregility Chief Innovation Officer. “Our latest telehealth edge devices offer healthcare organizations an effective way to extend hybrid care at scale – every room, every bed, every patient – so they can deliver the most effective, high-quality care possible.”
Learn more about Caregility’s suite of telehealth devices and schedule a demonstration at www.caregility.com.
About Caregility Caregility (caregility.com) is a telehealth solution provider connecting care everywhere. Designated as the Best in KLAS® Virtual Care Platform (non-EMR) in 2021, 2022, and 2023, Caregility Cloud™ brings bedside care, virtual care, and AI capabilities together at the point of care. Doctors, nurses, and patients around the world rely on our intelligent telehealth edge devices and virtual nursing, observation, and engagement applications to enhance clinical insights, patient safety, and efficiency. Trusted by over 75 health systems, deployed in more than 1,000 hospitals, and supporting over 30,000 connected devices, Caregility is helping to transform healthcare delivery across inpatient and outpatient settings.
As 2023 draws to a close, it’s time to take an annual collective pause and plan for what’s in store for healthcare in the coming year. In the spirit of tradition and championing innovation in healthcare, here are a few of our observations on the trends that will shape the digital health landscape in 2024.
1. A Measured Approach to Health AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the topic on everyone’s lips this year, but 2024 is shaping up to see the technology implemented in a more measured approach.
Healthcare organizations are starting to realize that the true value of AI lies not in its novelty but in its clinical and operational impact. With nascent generative AI and other technologies flooding the market, many healthcare organizations are taking a cautious approach to point solution adoption. 2024 should see an increased focus on building a secure infrastructure to introduce audio, video, and other sensor-based AI technology safely while improving large-language and other data models to better leverage AI tools.
As a result of this trend, hybrid care models have been on the rise, and their popularity is only set to grow in 2024. These models combine the convenience of remote healthcare staff coupled with the personalized touch of in-person care. Virtual Nursing, in particular, has proven effective as an inpatient workforce multiplier for understaffed hospitals, providing real-time reinforcement to overburdened floor staff.
As telehealth and adjacent technologies continue to advance, expect to see hybrid care models integrated into more acute and nonacute healthcare settings. In the coming years, patients will not only appreciate but come to expect the added layer of care, and healthcare providers will benefit from the improved patient experience and reduced reliance on travel staff.
3. Empowering Patients with Wearable Health Tech
Wearable health technology has been steadily evolving, and 2024 will witness a new era of data-driven insights. From smartwatches and fitness trackers to remote patient monitoring devices, wearables are becoming increasingly sophisticated, offering new sources for real-time health data capture in almost any setting.
In 2024, wearable health tech devices will play a more significant role in chronic disease management and early detection of health issues, both in the patient’s home and in hospital settings. With the adoption of AI technology, wearables will provide even more patient-specific health recommendations and alerts, helping to guide care more proactively.
Caregility CEO Ron Gaboury sees these trends coming together to leave an indelible mark on healthcare in 2024. “AI-enhanced hybrid care sets the stage for emerging home-based care delivery models like hospital-at-home, envisioning a future where highly skilled virtual nurses, alongside bedside clinicians, are empowered by intelligent tools to deliver high-quality patient care directly in patients’ homes.”
From a measured approach to health AI to the continued embrace of hybrid care models, digital health trends continue to redefine the way we approach healthcare. As we step into 2024, one thing is certain: the future of healthcare is digital, patient-centric, and teeming with new possibilities.
AMN Language Services + Caregility
Known for on-site as well as virtual interpretation services, you can access Stratus during any Caregility visit.
AMN interpreters complete extensive, interactive training and undergo multiple one-on-one practice sessions and platform assessments before taking live telehealth calls. This curriculum includes medical terminology, HIPAA, codes of conduct, and cultural competence. This provides them with a strong foundation for a variety of situations, including interpreting for refugees and navigating difficult conversations.
Eko’s advanced digital stethoscopes help optimize the treatment of cardiovascular conditions through the Caregility Cloud™ virtual care platform.
Caregility Cloud™ and Eko Connect integration addresses virtual care gaps by providing a more comprehensive physical exam experience to care teams and patients. Eko combines AI-powered stethoscopes (and an optional ECG combination) with patient and provider software. Benefits include improved amplification, noise cancellation, AI-powered analysis, and easy sharing of sound files with others. An easily-integrated set of SDKs and APIs ensures that this functionality works with any digital health platform.
Visit Eko to view the full webinar and learn more.