The BayCare Health System is the largest healthcare provider in Tampa Bay with 3,500 beds, 5,000 affiliated staff members, and 180,000 admission throughout their 15 hospitals. The health system has 170 outpatient clinics and locations including 12 urgent care centers.
All of the hospitals in the system have EDs and conduct about 2.2 million ambulatory visits a year with their emergency room volume approaching 800K per year. The health system also owns “BayCare Physician Partners Clinically Integrated Network” and the “BayCare Physician Partners Accountable Care Organization” which are both value-based care models.
Dr. Weiss expects some pent-up demand from canceled/postponed elective surgeries but expects surgeries to return but perhaps not to the same volume level that the health system had expected before the pandemic. Dr. Weiss also notes that ED s which normally admit roughly 20% of the patients, are showing a reduction in patients. In general, hospital occupancy rates are down by 30% excluding the NYC and New Orleans areas which were hit the hardest by COVID-19.
As for telehealth usage, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the wait time at BayCare was under 5 minutes for a telehealth urgent care visit but now the wait time has increased to 30-45 minutes. Dr Weiss reports that BayCare in order to deal with the longer wait times is triaging patients based on a screening questionnaire online.
The health system has put in place a nurse triage phone call routing system in order to have an alternative communication medium. Dr. Weiss doesn’t believe that this is a long term solution but it does enable a new way to communicate.
BayCare operates one of the largest homecare companies in the U.S with thousands of patients being taken care of in the home. He now sees an increased need for homecare as there is a large elderly population in Florida and care at home is much needed in the state.
As Dr Weiss notes, “The key concern is finding appropriate technology that will enable patients who would go to the hospital to get IVs for various problems be able to get the IVs done at home if the right monitoring technology is available.”
The health system has recently invested in a home monitoring company called HRS which is able to integrate the monitoring of vital signs into BayCare’s EHR to help manage home monitoring.
The health system has had a long time relationship with Cerner for over 10 years, BayCare relies on Cerner for inpatient and ambulatory services as well as for their population health platform. The system also uses Cerner’s data analytics platform to help with population health.
Bay Care uses Amwell as their telemedicine vendor but their contract with Amwell is independent of their contract with Cerner. As BayCare is still not on the same registration and scheduling system available at Cerner, the health system has not been able to integrate the telemedicine contract.
BayCare is in the process of replacing their registration and scheduling systems over the next few years. They intend to integrate their physicians into Amwell and start doing telemedicine in the medical group by the end of next year.
However, in response to COVID-19, BayCare implemented telemedicine and rolled out Amwell to their entire ambulatory primary care and specialty group in a 10-12 day period. As a result, the number of visits using telemedicine is going up every single day as both patients and providers get used to using the technology.
BayCare uses telemedicine for both on demand visits as well as for scheduled visits. Dr. Weiss reports that BayCare has a platform called “BayCare Anywhere” which uses Amwell. The platform at $59 per visit, connects the patient to a BayCare provider or an Amwell provider. When using the “BayCare Anywhere” platform, if the doctor determines that the patient needs to be seen in-person at an urgent care center, patients are refunded the $59 co-pay.
The health system also has other types of telemedicine products and uses BlueJeans for their behavioral health and psychiatry practices. They choose the BlueJeans platform because it is an inexpensive no frills platform connecting providers directly to patients and involves no external providers.
Dr. Weiss mentioned that there are new promising technologies on the horizon and BayCare has started testing robotics process automation. The company will know more in a few months once the technology is better integrated.
On AI and ML, Dr. Weiss mentioned that some vendors don’t really have AI but instead have some minor built-in pattern matching with is not truly considered AI technology. He doesn’t yet believe that BayCare is quite there when it comes to diagnosing patients and treating medical problems. However, the health system is working on natural language processing and incorporating multiple aspects of data to assist physicians.
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