The Virtual Care Insider

A little inspiration from an awesome health system

in Benefits

Matt Hodes

Matt Hodes
Senior Professional Services Manager
October 8, 2019


Erin Powell, System Director Retail Health at SSM Health, discusses how SSM has deployed virtual care at our Customer Panel at the 2019 Customer Summit.

Last month Healthcare IT News interviewed Grady Brimley, Vice President of Health Transformation at SSM Health, you can read the full article here (I highly recommend reading it). Today, I want to highlight two points that inspired me after reading Grady’s and SSM Health’s perspective. Full disclosure, SSM Health is a Zipnosis customer (which you’ll quickly learn if you read the article), but the viewpoints reflected here are my own. 

So, let me explain why this article left me energized about the future of virtual care. 

First: They’re focusing on the patient.

Feels obvious, right? Unfortunately, often times healthcare initiatives have nothing to do with what patients want or the patient experience. SSM Health makes a concerted effort to keep patients front and center in their decision making process. 

In SSM Health’s research, Grady shares they found out patients are looking for a more convenient way to meet their health needs, not necessarily a video visit. In fact they found the majority of patients prefer a message-based system or phone call to a video visit. 

This totally makes sense to me as a consumer of healthcare and user of virtual care in my personal life (more on this in my recent vlog with Jon Pearce). What makes virtual care so great to me as a patient is how convenient it is, I can do a visit on my own schedule, without planning around a provider’s availability and being in a private quiet space. It’s quick and fits seamlessly into our family’s schedule.

Second: They’re changing the way “it’s always been done”.

By focusing on provider efficiency gains, SSM Health isn’t just recreating the same in-person visit and moving it to video. Instead, they’re mirroring changes that have happened to the customer experience across industries (I’m looking at you banking, retail, hospitality, entertainment… you get the idea) and using technology to make their business more efficient. As Zipnosis CEO, Jon Pearce, loves to say, “when was the last time you did a video visit to order something on Amazon?”

You don’t video visit Amazon because a.) it would be inefficient for Amazon and b.) consumers don’t WANT to video chat with Amazon. SSM Health is taking that shift in consumer desires and real business needs into account by investing in asynchronous visits.

And as Grady pointed out in talking to Healthcare IT News, SSM Health’s provider work time for asynchronous or online interview visits is just one minute and 50 seconds, versus a 15 minute video visit. In a world where access to care is limited, and providers are a finite resource (sentiments you’ll hear Grady echo in the article and the statistics indicate will only get worse in the next 10 years) that kind of time savings is game changing from both a scalability and cost perspective.

So there you have it—that’s why I’m feeling so optimistic about the future of virtual care after reading the Healthcare IT News article.

If every healthcare professional started thinking about the patient experience at the center of their decisions and didn’t limit themselves to the status quo, together we could start to make a positive change to the world. Or at a minimum, change the future of healthcare for the better. And that’s pretty inspirational.

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