Geisinger’s Response to COVID-19

As part of Credit Suisse’s https://www.credit-suisse.com “Healthcare Disruptive Technologies & Innovations” (HCDT&D) series, David Fletcher, Associate Vice President of Telehealth at Geisinger https://www.geisinger.org was hosted at a virtual meeting with a small group of investors.

Today, the company serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, 600,000 members in the health plan, two research centers, and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine https://geisinger.edu/education.

While Geisinger has a good base of hospitals, clinics etc., and has a telehealth infrastructure in place, telehealth isn’t historically been used beyond surgery follow-ups in patients at home.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has been aggressive in setting up telehealth services for patients because the health system is cancelling many of their non-emergent type office visits, as well as cancelling patients that don’t want to be in a sitting area waiting for medical care in these times.

Today, Geisinger is using telehealth so physicians are able to monitor and manage COVID-19 patients at home. Several of the health system’s providers that were previously not using telemedicine are now set up and trained to use virtual care. Additionally, Geisinger is also employing telehealth services to save on PPE, since PPEs are in short supply.

Historically Geisinger was an InTouch Health https://intouchhealth.com customer, but is expanding with Teladoc Health https://www.teladoc.com. Geisinger is using InTouch Health as their primary platform which enables the health system to put everything on one platform to include inpatient and outpatient information.

Mr. Fletcher believes Teladoc might leverage its in-home capabilities and supersede InTouch’s approach during the COVID-19 crisis. Geisinger also entered into an agreement with Teladoc to provide on-demand services using Teladoc’s doctors which the health system hadn’t explored before.

Geisinger is planning on the use of virtual triage to roll out in the fall of 2020. The idea is to leverage the symptom checker to route patients with potential end points by conducting video visits along with in-person visits etc.

For video visits, Geisinger had planned to leverage their own clinicians for certain times of the day with the high volume overflowing to Teladoc. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted Geisinger’s plans but since the plan was already in the works, it was easy for the company to accelerate implementing the plan.

Today, telehealth utilization is ramping up InTouch Health’s home platform. The company is currently handling several hundred daily visits which the company is expecting to ramp up to over 1K.

In fact, the company expects daily visits to surpass what it used to do in a month before COVID-19. Most of Geisinger’s visits are still scheduled but the wait time is not an issue for the company. Once Teladoc’s on demand services are rolled out, Geisinger expects to see an increase in volume related to COVID-19 like symptoms.

Mr. Fletcher notes that the interoperability factor related to the use of InTouch Health with Geisinger’s EHR platform, has been pretty good. For example, all appointments are made via Geisinger’s scheduling software (EPIC) which is tied into the health system’s EMR. The data is then concurrently relayed into the telemedicine platform so patients won’t have to schedule an appointment in multiple places or risk being double booked.

Mr. Fletcher’s thoughts on regulations, thinks that CMS has always been in favor for lifting the restrictions.. He believes that if the telehealth industry performs well and patients like using telehealth, there will be enough of a push for legislation to lift restrictions.

He believes, that while the telehealth industry in general does not do a great job of providing data, over the next few months, the COVID-19 pandemic will provide an opportunity for the industry to gather more data and use the data to track all the information needed on a larger scale.

For more information, or to provide feedback, email Jailendra Singh at jailendra.singh@credit-suisse.com or call 212-325-8121.

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