Virtual care management growth may slow, but will keep climbing, analysts say

A new Chilmark Research report out this week found that so-called omni-channel platforms aim to become the centerpiece of provider workflow – especially when it comes to integrating virtual care.  

The report examined a cross-section of vendors leading the virtual care management charge, noting that solutions go beyond carrying out remote appointments.

WHY IT MATTERS

The report found that new interoperability rules, combined with the growing adoption of APIs, make it easier to integrate new data sources.  

Many leading tools, it said, have evolved from simple data-aggregation and reporting to automating activity and condensing recommendations. It highlighted the importance of thinking beyond synchronous, video-focused terms for virtual care, instead focusing on longitudinal monitoring and targeted use of tools.  

“The most successful vendors cover as many chronic conditions as possible, while also offering services for other types of virtual engagement,” read the report.  

Researchers profiled several vendors, sorting them into the categories of “electronic health record,” “population health management,” and “virtual care best of breed.”  

Electronic health record vendors, such as athenahealth, Epic, Cerner and NextGen, are embedded in clinical workflow and offer good baseline virtual care management tools, wrote Chilmark researchers. However, they are often limited and may require additional software purchases to meet more specialized needs. 

Researchers said that population health management companies, including Health Catalyst, Innovaccer and Persivia, had strengths such as powerful data aggregation and analysis tools, as well as being EHR-agnostic. At the same time, they may require costly additional services for custom patient care profiles, and many are not “turn-key VCM solutions.”  

Finally, “virtual care best of breed” vendors – Amwell, Bright.md, Doxy.me, GYANT, Neuroflow, Philips, Silvercloud, SymphonyRM and Teladoc – were viewed as often being the most innovative, especially when it came to artificial intelligence and machine learning. But they were generally niche solutions, researchers said, and usually not the cheapest option.  

“Each type of solution is evaluated by how they address the needs of providers and patients,” Chilmark spokespeople explained in a statement accompanying the report.  

As far as market forecasts went, researchers projected a compound annual growth rate of 22% over five years, with ambulatory and independent practices showing the steepest change in spending.  

THE LARGER TREND  

So-called omni-channel healthcare, in which virtual care acts as a complement to other care options, has been top of mind for some leaders in the industry as telehealth’s future remains uncertain.

During the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference this past month, Marcus Osborne, senior VP of Walmart Health – which recently acquired telemedicine vendor MeMD – said telehealth was an “enabler,” and that it could “enable providers to up their game and deliver better care.”  

“As we think about telehealth it’s about recognizing – give people options, give people multiple pathways to engage care the way they want, and guess what they’ll do?” he said. “They’ll get care.”  

ON THE RECORD  

“What we’ve seen with telehealth is amazing, but it isn’t transformative,” said Alex Lennox-Miller, senior research analyst at Chilmark, in a statement.

“With a focus on longitudinal care, these technologies improve access, reduce costs, and make the provision of care [easier]. They give us the opportunity to genuinely transform how patients and providers experience healthcare.”

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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