How Avel eCare is transforming the very foundation of care delivery, as confirmed by its customers
By: Doug Duskin, CEO, Avel eCare
The third full week of September is Telehealth Awareness Week. Digital health organizations of all shapes and sizes come together to celebrate and recognize how telehealth is an excellent option for care delivery, impacting countless patients across the country and the globe. We at Avel However, our organization takes virtual care well beyond the typical telehealth interactions. Where most patients are thinking of telehealth as video calls with doctors over the phone, Avel eCare operates in a clinician-to-clinician environment, where our telemedicine experts directly support local physicians and nurses who need a helping hand. As next week brings much deserved attention to the area of telehealth, we want to also call attention to the role of telemedicine in transforming the delivery of care and celebrate its impact on rural and underserved communities. Recently, we heard firsthand the impact telemedicine can have on health care organizations and communities at our recent Customer Forum and Innovation Summit. Hosted in Nashville, Tennessee earlier in August, this first annual event brought together individuals representing many of our customers to discuss the future of healthcare delivery. The following is my reflection of the event, and a statement as to how Avel will continue its pioneering work transforming healthcare through telemedicine.
Care Across the Country
As a telemedicine provider servicing 650+ facilities spread across 32 states, our customers represent a broad array of health care organizations. From small critical access hospitals on the rural frontier to large health systems spanning multiple states, these organizations – our partners – are delivering high quality care to patients throughout the United States. They see it all, and Avel eCare is honored to be there to support their efforts and ensure everyone has access to healthcare, when and where it’s needed. To date, Avel has provided services impacting hundreds of facilities, thousands of clinicians, and millions of patients. In order to stay ahead of the curve and continue to make an impact, we are constantly seeking out the needs and feedback of our customers, and our Customer Forum provided the perfect venue in order to glean this crucial information.
Content which Drives Action
The Customer Forum and Innovation Summit is, as the name implies, an engaging event focused on how Avel’s innovative telemedicine services can meet the evolving needs of its customers – hospitals, senior care facilities, clinics, schools, and other health care organizations. Our goal when planning the event was to introduce our customers to a slate of speakers – industry thought leaders and change agents -who would inspire ideas and provoke action. Dr. Don Kosiak, Chief Medical Officer for Leidos, spoke to the evolution of telemedicine care delivery. Josh Jorgenson, Director of Government Affairs for the National Rural Health Association, provided a government affairs update and gave an educated guess on how telehealth flexibilities and waivers would fare moving forward. Rich Skoba, Senior Vice President of Aon Cyber Solutions, explored recent cybersecurity threat trends and detailed the steps healthcare organizations can take to protect their systems and their patient. In addition, the program also featured many of our Vice Presidents and General Managers who, collectively, were able to tell Avel’s story and demonstrate the interconnected relationship between all our service lines Together, our guest speakers and panelists represented a mix of clinical, technological, and administrative leaders who are pushing the boundaries of telemedicine and care delivery.
Feedback Right from the Source
Avel is, at its core, a service organization fundamentally committed to advancing the field of telemedicine through innovation and forward-thinking strategies. To do so, collaboration is key, and the Customer Forum presented a crucial opportunity to solicit feedback right from those on the front lines of health care – our customers. Through roundtables and one-on-one discussions, our team gained valuable insights into the realities health care providers, clinicians, executives, and administrators face on a daily basis. One observation that struck me was how some of our customers expressed confusion as to what issues telemedicine can solve, especially now in a marketplace that is becoming saturated with new companies and startups. I can understand their confusion – it’s hard to sift through all the competing claims and flashy marketing material. But, at the end of the day, there is a reason why these leaders are working with Avel: our proven track record of success and unwavering commitment to high quality care. We can make a real difference for these administrators, physicians, nurses, clinicians – and their local communities – and we have the data and outcomes to back it up.
The Future: Workforce, Legislation, and Behavioral Healthcare
When asking our customers about the future, we noticed a few trends emerge. Given the workforce shortage, many hospitals and health care organizations are looking at new staffing models and are willing to embrace new tools and technologies to do so. For example, one customer of Avel is now looking to utilize our Behavioral Health services to help extend their nursing coverage during the day, a strategy made possible thanks to our ability to augment local clinicians and provide important gap coverage to plug staffing holes. Another customer mentioned the regulatory barriers that exist to preventing telemedicine’s growth and spread across the country. Avel has been a thought leader in this space, and has continually advocated, along with important partners, for expanded telehealth and telemedicine policies at both a state and federal level. More still must be done to ensure a telemedicine-friendly environment where it is seen as another modality of care delivery.
Finally, many customers spoke to the huge gap in behavioral healthcare services and how telemedicine can be a solution to preventing acute mental health issues from going untreated or progressing unchecked. Given the struggles in rural areas to access this type of care – 65% of nonmetropolitan counties lack psychiatrists and more than 60% of individuals in rural areas live in designated mental health provider shortage areas – this is a critical gap that Avel eCare’s Behavioral Health team is driven to fill.
In all, the first annual Customer Forum and Innovation Summit was a rousing success. It served as a fantastic reminder that healthcare needs come in all shapes and sizes – from a frontier hospital needing Emergency medicine support to a large tertiary medical facility that needs gap coverage for behavioral health services.
Even though we are proud of how far Avel has come in the past three decades, there is still much work to be done, and the possibilities are endless. As telehealth grew in popularity and practical necessity during the pandemic, it opened new doors and has accelerated virtual care’s pace as a new solution to pressing healthcare challenges. From delivering telemedicine support around the globe to right here in our backyard, our expert physicians, nurses, and clinicians are ready to meet the challenge and deliver high quality care when and where it is needed. We are here to help.