Five Connected Health Integrations for Hospital-Based Hybrid CareBy: Caregility Team
Since reaching widespread adoption in 2020, telehealth has captured headline after headline. While the lion’s share of media attention has been centered on outpatient telehealth sessions connecting providers to patients at home, use cases within hospital settings have quietly been gaining momentum.
Many health systems are looking to build upon the success of virtual care programs used in the COVID-19 response and the tele-ICU. Chronic staff shortages have sparked interest in expanding bedside hybrid care models to bring virtual support into additional workflows for overburdened care teams.
In inpatient settings, where resources are scarce and care is the most complex, tele-nursing and virtual patient observation programs are gaining popularity as health systems seek to enhance patient coverage and safety. Recent innovations in telehealth are paving the way for virtual engagement at every patient bedside to support these efforts and other “hospital room of the future” initiatives.
Within hybrid care environments, integrated software, services, and devices play a crucial role in workflow optimization. Beyond requisite EMR integration, here are five virtual care program essentials frequently used to support digitally connected health.
1) Digital Health Assessment Devices
A key component that’s traditionally been absent in virtual care is a physical patient examination. New digital health devices are helping to close that gap. Emerging technologies are enabling care teams to remotely assess patient vitals and body sounds in real time. Caregility recently announced an integration partnership with Eko’s digital stethoscope to help remote clinicians and bedside staff collaborate to perform high-quality auscultation quickly and easily during virtual rounding. Digital thermometers, pulse oximeters, respiratory rate monitors, electrocardiogram patches, blood pressure kits, accelerometers, and other biosensors similarly support remote patient assessment. These devices elevate virtual encounters to support earlier detection of patient deterioration, building clinician confidence and ultimately improving patient outcomes.
2) Clinical Decision Support Tools
Clinical decision support (CDS) tools play a central role in disease management at various stages of the patient journey, including early screening, diagnosis, and post-discharge care. Real-time clinical data collection supports timely decision making and evidence-based, proactive care delivery. To bring this vital care support tool into virtual care encounters, many health systems are integrating their CDS and telehealth platforms. PeraHealth’s Rothman Index, for example, is an FDA-cleared risk assessment measure that can be brought into virtual workflows to help care teams prioritize treatment plan changes, transfers, palliative care referrals, and discharges.
3) Interactive Patient Care Systems
Many “care room of the future” initiatives seek to improve patient care by delivering easy-to-use technology to the bedside that is focused on empowering patients and increasing their satisfaction during hospital stays. Interactive patient care (IPC) systems like OneView provide a range of in-room services to patients, from education and entertainment to meal ordering and care support. Integrating IPC systems with your telehealth platform allows you to support virtual care visits on smart TV devices, avoiding duplicative hardware costs and crowding the room with additional screens.
4) Interpreter Services
To support culturally diverse patient populations during virtual encounters, health systems often integrate interpreter services into their telehealth platform. Virtual remote interpretation (VRI) services like LanguageLine support language access compliance and reduce health inequities for deaf, hard of hearing, and limited English proficient patients. Remote access to on-demand interpreters ensures 24/7 language support when on-site resources may not be available. Video-enabled telehealth enables sign language support and helps interpreters pick up on non-verbal cues, reducing miscommunication.
5) Third-Party Clinical Services
As staffing challenges persist, some hospitals and health systems simply lack the existing personnel needed to support adequate patient coverage. Integration with third-party clinical service solutions like Equum allows care teams to bring outsourced staff into virtual clinical workflows to eliminate gaps in care. From enhanced RN support to specialist visit access, health systems can increase clinical capacity through either dedicated outsourced support programs or on an as-needed basis during peak surges.
Click here to explore the full Caregility Connected ecosystem of telehealth integration partners enabling hybrid care.