Virtual Visits in Healthcare: The Past, Present, and Future
Kathryn Austin, Director, Center for Consumerism, AVIA
Piedmont Healthcare’s virtual health efforts were well underway when COVID-19 hit, sending those efforts into overdrive. Suddenly, every virtual endeavor across the Georgia-based integrated health system became an urgent imperative. Piedmont rapidly implemented virtual visits for their provider network, increasing utilization to 80% of total office visits at its peak. Capitalizing on that momentum, Piedmont leadership knew virtual health would continue to be core to its care delivery strategy long after COVID-19, specifically when it came to access.
“Virtual health touched multiple areas across the organization, but prior to COVID-19 it was fragmented,” said Patrick Cossart, Telehealth Program Manager at Piedmont. “The acceleration from the pandemic created a burning need for a platform that would enable us to get organized in the space.”
Creating a centralized platform was no small task: Last year, the system served over 2 million patients across 11 hospitals, 34 urgent care centers, 25 QuickCare locations, and 555 clinic physician practice locations. How does a health system with that type of reach get started? With alignment.
“We needed organizational and strategic direction setting from senior leaders, so we engaged with AVIA to get all stakeholders on the same page at the executive level and outline where Piedmont can and should move in the future,” Cossart said. “AVIA brought a sense of urgency we wouldn’t have been able to achieve on our own with such a wide breadth of scope across IT, service line leaders, consumer experience, operations, and strategy.”
“AVIA brought a sense of urgency we wouldn’t have been able to achieve on our own with such a wide breadth of scope across IT, service line leaders, consumer experience, operations, and strategy.”
An additional blocker was the strain of COVID-19 on resources. Even in pre-pandemic times, stakeholder alignment is challenging. With COVID-19 pivoting nearly every system priority, AVIA helped guide the Piedmont team in the midst of ambiguity. By aligning stakeholders while crafting a dynamic roadmap that can continue to develop over time, AVIA enabled Piedmont to execute in the near-term while designing a successful virtual future. Additionally, the sequenced and flexible roadmap accounted for shifting payment models while identifying additional opportunities for ROI.
“We’ve been trying to get traction around this for years, and we finally have that because of AVIA’s ability to get leadership across teams on the same page,” Cossart said. “We’re no longer thinking about virtual health as an independent silo, but rather as an enabler of success across the entire organization.”
AVIA is the leading digital transformation partner for over 50 health systems across the US, including Piedmont Healthcare. To learn more about how you can become an AVIA Member and achieve digital transformation in your organization, contact us today.