There have been a number of bullish signs that telemedicine is reaching a critical mass such that larger hospitals without a program may start to feel anxious. This anxiety may also become more acute in the face of federal cost reduction programs because telemedicine provides a way to increase patient services without investing in bricks and mortar. I have been blogging about telemedicine for years but it has remained a marginal form of healthcare delivery until recently (see: Insurance Companies Can Use Telemedicine to Enlarge Their Provider Networks; Hospital Telemedicine Provides Opportunity for Pathologists to Interact with Patients; Details of Cleveland Clinic's MyCare Online Virtual Telemedicine Visits; Facilitating Engagement of Consumers using E-Health Tools Like Twitter). One sign of the growing maturity of the field is that Xerox has now announced a suite of telemedicine software tools (see: Xerox unveils new telehealth virtual clinic tools). Below is an excerpt from the article:
Xerox...launched the Virtual Health Solutions suite of software and services to enable healthcare providers to offer patients telehealth consults and handle some of the business aspects of a typical transaction. Xerox telehealth announcement comes on the heels of telemedicine specialist American Well revealing its new Exchange platform and boldly claiming that it can do for healthcare what Amazon did for retail. Providers can use the new Xerox offerings to build out a telehealth strategy for more effectively coordinating care and including patient information in electronic health records, as well as test results such, prescription refills, health and wellness coaching, follow-up and mental health services including counseling and psychiatric care.... With the new Virtual Clinic Services infrastructure, Xerox can coordinate tasks including appointment scheduling, appointment pre-authorization, claims preparation and payment processing. [Also: Virtual care holds answers to access, quality and cost, but needs tight integration and the right mix of clinicians to work] The company will also create customized technology and consulting packages for customers. A Xerox customer care agent will coordinate insurance verification, appointment pre-authorization and scheduling, payment processing and claims preparation, submission, tracking and reconciliation, providing the same type of familiar experience patients receive at an in-person doctor visit.
Cleveland Clinic turned to American Well to provide its turnkey telemedicine solution about a year ago (see: Cleveland Clinic Launches Web Site to Offer Physician Visits to Ohio Residents). American Well is both a provider of physician teleconsultations as well as a software vendor for these services. I wonder whether its "battle-tested" software may provide functionality that the Xerox product lacks. However, I also think that a much larger problem than software functionality for hospitals is having a cadre of physicians and nurses who are comfortable and efficient when delivering healthcare at a distance. The Cleveland Clinic turned to its family practice physicians to launch its own program.
To restate the obvious, Xerox has had a brilliant past but stumbled in past decades. Here's an article from the Harvard Business Review from seventeen years ago that recounts some of the company history (see: Why Good Companies Go Bad). It's interesting that this storied company has chosen healthcare as one of the industries to focus on in addition to other sectors such as aerospace, banking, and energy (see: Population Health Management Software for Community Health Strategies). Time will tell whether it can compete in the telehealth space but it's certainly an early player.