CRM leader Salesforce today launched new telehealth features for its Health Cloud patient relationship management solution, enabling two-way video chat that allows patients to connect directly with their care teams via any mobile device.
Powered by Salesforce SOS, the company’s branded two-way video chat, the telehealth solution combines three key features: real-time support, providing instant gratification for the patient; contextual care; and ease of use.
The contextual care feature is especially important to enhancing patient care, Joshua Newman, general manager for Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences, tells Healthcare Dive. “Unlike other video solutions, this allows you to have video embedded in the application, embedded in the timeline and the care plan and the care team and all the other information that you have on Health Cloud.”
When patients log into the mobile app, Health Cloud automatically recognizes them and brings up their profile, allowing caregivers to quickly get up to speed on their case, and allowing patients to ask questions, check on next appointments or go over post-discharge care plans. Everything shows up in the patient’s timeline.
The solution comes as more people are using smartphones and mobile apps to conduct transaction across all industries. According to Salesforce’s 2016 Connected Patient Report, nearly two-thirds (62%) of U.S. respondents with a primary care provider and health insurance would be open to virtual care treatments.
Salesforce said it is working closely with its ecosystem of partners — including Silverline, Persistent Systems, and Accenture — to implement the telehealth solution in Health Cloud. The list price is $150 per user per month, on top of the basic Health Cloud fee of $300 per user per month.
Rapid market growth
In offering the telehealth features, Salesforce joins a growing field of players that includes giants like GE Healthcare, IBM, Philips Healthcare, McKesson, as well as smaller companies and startups.
According to a recent analysis by Grand View Research, the U.S. telehealth market is expected to reach $2.83 billion by 2022, up from $572 million in 2014. Cloud-based products are forecast to be the fastest growing segment over this period, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.5%, the report says.
Fueling that growth are number of factors: a sharp rise in the chronically ill and aging population, physician shortages in many parts of the country, rapid advances in IT capabilities, rising healthcare costs, lowered reimbursement, increasing use of home-based care, and patients’ and doctors’ growing ease with mobile technologies.
A recent analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores this point, according to Healthcare Informatics. The physician authors point out that increasing policy and reimbursement pressures to create value-based care and expand population health management are fueling demand for telehealth solutions that are convenient and engage the patient, reduce costs, enhance outcomes, strengthen the patient-doctor relationship, and streamline the care delivery process.
Improving the patient experience
Newman says the decision to offer telehealth services at this time was partly pragmatic. “We had Salesforce SOS as part of our service cloud, and it’s very easy for us to keep adding to it.” Unveiled in February, the company has committed to introducing new features to Health Cloud every four months.
But there’s a deeper reason for this move now, he allows. Increasingly, customers are interested in improving the patient experience — whether that’s support for adherence to treatment regimens or coaching or concierge-type services — and they’re looking for solutions to help them do that.
What sets Health Cloud’s telehealth solution apart from many others in the marketplace, says Newman, is that it offers real contextual care. “There are dozens of companies that have video and there are dozens of companies that have patient engagement. My experience has been that most of them are separate … and what they don’t get is the context.”
Salesforce is not entirely alone in this space. Last year, Mesa, AZ-based health tech startup eVisit launched a telemedicine platform that offers secure, high-resolution, two-way video chat between providers and their patients. The software also facilitates reimbursement for providers from third-party payers.
American Well also offers telehealth platform with two-way video chat that includes access to updated patient health information at the point of engagement.
Unlike most industries, which industrialized a century ago, healthcare is trying to industrialize as it adopts newer, more sophisticated technologies. “That’s a very taxing and scary proposition,” Newman says. At the same time, many are cash-strapped, having spent much of their capital on establishing EMR networks.
“What we have to do is help them grow and help them solve more proximal problems,” he adds. The other piece is technology, he says — offering customers integrated solutions that can easily be upgraded and expanded.
“It’s the idea of getting healthcare on a track of constant innovation, agile growth and being able to accommodate changes at a pace that’s orders of magnitude faster than what they used to do,” Newman says. “And with the speed comes the cost savings.”