Baptist Health telehealth consumer participants total 60,000
Baptist Health South Florida was a leader in telemedicine, and continues to hold the lead through innovation, said Danny Elfenbein, the hospital chain’s director of consumer and digital health solutions.
Individual consumer participation in the telehealth program has reached 60,000, he said, “which is significant growth,” a 20% increase in participants from 50,000 just one year ago. For a $59 fee, patients can receive physician services including urgent care, mental health counseling, psychiatry, breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, and more. Eventually, there will be more than 40 specialties from which patients can choose. “We’re adding more practices,” he said, “and we’re getting great feedback from our partners.”
The need for convenience, along with South Florida’s notoriously bad traffic, has fueled the system’s growth. Other entities, including insurance companies, have also begun offering various forms of telehealth or telemedicine.
“It’s the power of the consumer,” Mr. Elfenbein said. “The power to use the phone at home, in the parking garage, wherever you are. With one 15-minute phone call, you can gain back hours for work, for whatever you need to do.”
Exclusive to Baptist Health is a new device, TytoHome, available now through Best Buy, that allows consumers to collect and relay health information to the doctor or other provider they’re seeing on the screen.
“This is a big change; the consumer at home just hits a button and they’re giving better information to their health professional for a better diagnosis and better outcome,” Mr. Elfenbein said.
The Baptist network has installed the system in the John Knox Village nursing home and retirement facility in Broward County, presently to serve employees. But Mr. Elfenbein wouldn’t rule out the possibility of eventual use by residents.
“The residents will learn from the employees and the employees learn from the residents. It brings everyone more piece of mind.”
“Telemedicine is still new and consistently evolving,” he said. “This is our third year and we continue to learn. One of the things we’ve learned is that local people are choosing local care over insurance-based or nationwide telemedicine programs. We have much greater respect out there, and a strong local presence. We are definitely a local brand. We’re creating a high-trust experience for the consumer, building an experience they will love.”
Each telehealth visit is followed up by a personal telephone call, Mr. Elfenbein said. Eventually, the system hopes to fold in delivery pharmacy services, so the ill caller doesn’t have to leave home or office. “We will explore every avenue we can,” he said, “to make the experience better for the end user.”