Ambient clinical intelligence

Increased Health Risks and a New Telehealth Playing Field

Less than a year ago, just 10 percent of consumers used telehealth instead of an in-person visit. The coronavirus pandemic changed all of that and rapidly. The U.S. has already seen a dramatic upswing in volume of telehealth visits, and it’s expected these shifts in acceptance, adoption, and use of vital telehealth technologies will continue. Nuance remains committed to alleviate the administrative burdens on all healthcare providers; here are a few highlights on how we’re helping them adapt to what’s next.

Until recently, just 10% of patients took advantage of telehealth in lieu of an in-person visit—but that is changing rapidly before our eyes. So many of us have been told to stay home, to work from home, to shelter in place. Following these guidelines means shifting more and more of our interactions to digital platforms as often as practical and appropriate.

However, people still have health conditions, both acute and chronic, and need to check in with their providers. Telehealth is vital to managing remote or sheltered patients. With the current pandemic and as a result of CMS changes and waivers (payments for telehealth and reduced HIPAA restrictions), we have seen a dramatic upswing in the volume and frequency of telehealth visits. In fact, a recent Forrester Research report predicts that virtual health visits in the U.S. alone are expected to exceed 1 billion in 2020 largely because of COVID-19. Additionally, analysts from Frost & Sullivan recently found that in March, telehealth visits surged 50 percent.

Accelerated adoption of telehealth technologies means new healthcare experiences for patients and providers alike. From an efficiency perspective, there are time savings to be had. Patients no longer need to drive back and forth to appointments and follow-ups, allowing for time back in their day. For physicians with the right technologies and resources in place, patient care can still be delivered. From a business of medicine perspective, conducting virtual visits may provide much-needed revenue in an uncertain time, and efficiencies of care and documentation could assist physicians to complete their work faster so they can get home to loved ones.

At the same time, however, physicians must learn new technologies as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Video conferencing systems, new documentation requirements, and changing platforms can add to the already-overwhelming administrative burden. Providing tools that enhance efficiency and alleviate burdens is essential. That’s why we’re bringing our Nuance Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) solution into the telehealth setting—to create a simple pathway for physicians to automatically document care by leveraging the mobile device already at their fingertips.

Anecdotally, we’ve heard stories of organizations logging 8,000 telehealth visits in just a few weeks. Even if each visit requires just four minutes to properly create documentation, that’s more than 500 hours physicians are tied up in administrative tasks and not doing the things that matter most. Now imagine that DAX can reduce that administrative burden to less than a minute saving hundreds of hours. What would that mean to your providers in terms of time savings and work satisfaction from reduced manual tasks/data entry?

In addition to unburdening providers with DAX, we are enabling radiologists to work virtually via our PowerShare Image Sharing network, a platform whose size, performance, reliability, and scalability is more important than ever. Our teams have committed to remotely connecting, training, and ramping up radiologists, physicians, and patients quickly, helping them gain access to real-time, mobile, secure image and diagnostic sharing in just days.

These efforts are critical to us—that was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and more so as we head into the next normal. We will innovate with and for our customers to ensure that we stay ahead of their needs and deliver the best technology possible to support them during this crisis – and beyond for the daily delivery of compassionate and excellent care.

Robert Budman, MD MBA

About Robert Budman, MD MBA

Dr. Robert Budman, MD, MBA, and Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP) with AHIMA, is the Chief Medical Information Officer for Nuance Healthcare. He supports the Computer Assisted Physician Documentation (CAPD) product line and develops training and education materials for outbound and internal use. Dr. Budman is Board Certified in Family Med & Informatics. He focuses on efficiency, safety, and quality initiatives with global experience in multi-EHR and service line care delivery. His work involves implementation, workflow adoption, and optimization. Dr. Budman earned multiple clinical awards and speaks extensively on healthcare IT.