Heritage Valley Health System Needs an Embedded Virtual Care Solution
Heritage Valley Health System has a longstanding history of patient engagement throughout western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. They have been pioneers in giving patients more control over their healthcare experience, beginning in 2006 with implementing self-service kiosks in their lobbies. Heritage Valley Health System also created their own iOS and Android mobile apps that enable patient access to providers, services, wait times, and related portals.
When they looked for a new telehealth partner to round out their portfolio of patient-first technologies, Heritage Valley Health System knew they needed a complete virtual care solution that would give them a fully integrated, embedded experience. Not only did that virtual visit need to be convenient for their patients anywhere and on any device, but it also needed to work well for their providers by integrating with their EHR, Allscripts TouchWorks®.
“We tried for years to develop an online visit with forms that would eventually integrate with our EHR. But it didn’t go well,” said Jon Zagorski, Heritage Valley Health System Chief Information Officer at Heritage Valley Health System. “We needed seamless integration for providers and patients. It is very inefficient for our providers to flip between different applications in order to do their job”
Robert Swaskoski, Heritage Valley Health System Chief Information Security Officer agrees. “We were using different telehealth software for a while. But the physician’s office had to schedule online appointments twice—once in their practice management software and again in the other software. We wanted our telehealth option to appear embedded. We went through several iterations, but we couldn’t get the other API to work the way we wanted it to.”
Unsatisfied with their ability to provide greater access for their patients while also improving their providers’ experience with telehealth, Heritage Valley Health searched for better virtual care solutions.
“The solutions we found were very focused on providing a physician-centered product, or on offering their own network of physicians,” says Zagorski.
However, Heritage Valley Health didn’t need virtual physicians—they had plenty of providers who were more than willing to provide virtual visits for their patients. What they needed was a flexible solution that valued collaboration—in other words, real integration.
“As a midsize organization, we’re constantly looking for flexible partners who are willing to integrate,” Zagorski said. “Our single biggest decision point was whether they had an open, willing integration perspective. When we assessed other solutions in the market, their lack of willingness to integrate into our world was a major barrier. The bigger players basically said, ‘this is our platform, you adapt to us.”
When Zagorski learned about Bluestream Health, he wondered if they were just another solution that touted integration without actually being flexible enough to work with them.
Heritage Valley needed something more than a canned solution. They needed a partner who would develop applications and workflows in the API, so they could continue to use their pre-existing applications. The last thing their providers or patients wanted was another app with a new log-in to remember. Leveraging their existing kiosks and mobile app would improve the experience for everyone.
“We wanted virtual care to appear to be embedded. By partnering with Bluestream Health, what we’ve done looks exactly like that,” Swaskoski said. “Now, providers can click on a tab directly in the TouchWorks environment. This is one of the most desirable aspects that our providers were looking for.”
The next phase of Heritage Valley application development will embed the Bluestream visit to further enrich the patient experience by helping them save time during registration. Patients will receive a text message reminder before their visit, which sends them to the HVHS mobile app where they complete a brief pre-registration form. The Bluestream Health API will then issue patients a QR code which they present at Outpatient Services locations. Patients can skip the lines at the clinic by scanning the QR code at the kiosk which confirms their correct information and insurance.
The value of an integrated virtual care solution extends beyond shorter visits, less data entry, and happier providers. In fact, Heritage Valley believes that remote care done right will shift from being a transaction to a means of health management. The physician, care provider, and case manager can all work from a single record to develop a comprehensive care plan for the patient.
“As we continue this transformational shift within the healthcare industry to a prevention and wellness model, telehealth will be a critical feature,” Zagorski said. “The easier it is for people to use, with the most options available—whether it’s a link in an app, a link in their text, or a link in their email—the more likely they are to use it.”
Heritage Valley Health System, with Bluestream Health, Quickly Implements Virtual Care for 84 Providers
In just 9 weeks, Heritage Valley Health System implemented virtual care powered by Bluestream Health across 18 sites for 84 urgent care providers.
“Our partnership with Bluestream Health has paid dividends,” said Zagorski. “Our providers are very pleased with the experience.”
Heritage Valley Health System continued to roll out the Bluestream integrated telehealth solution and currently has 242 providers across 36 practice sites including Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health.
Bluestream Health is thrilled to partner with forward-thinking organizations like Heritage Valley Health System. Heritage Valley believes in increasing patient engagement, improving the physician experience, and solving complex problems with customized solutions. We’re privileged to enable the workflows that support their vision.