- Verizon is joining the crowded virtual care market with the launch of its new telemedicine platform for providers, Verizon BlueJeans, on Monday, banking on continued demand for virtual care post-COVID-19.
- The company has reworked the video conferencing platform, which it acquired last year, for customers in the healthcare and life sciences space. BlueJeans is meant to provide a streamlined and simplified installation and user experience for its clients by addressing two major challenges for providers when it comes to telehealth: tech literacy and visit efficiency, the New York-based telecommunications giant said.
- Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin said in a statement Monday the launch is "just the beginning" for Verizon in telehealth, "especially when you consider the innovation that will come from 5G mobility, broadband and cloud capabilities." BlueJeans Telehealth will be generally available in May.
Hospitals and doctor's offices were slow to offer telemedicine to their existing patients before the coronavirus slammed the U.S. early last year, facing little-to-no reimbursement, among other speed bumps. But over the past year, COVID-19 radically accelerated the need for a digital pathway to care, as providers looked to recoup lost in-person volume and keep tabs on their patients at home.
But some providers, especially small, resource-strapped facilities, reported problems with the cost or overhead of implementing new telehealth solutions.
BlueJeans is meant to ameliorate some of these problems by simplifying installation and user experience for its provider clients. Erwin said Verizon worked with an advisory board of health system clinicians and executives to build BlueJeans' telehealth platform to try to ensure it was quick and easy to use, even for virtual care newbies.
The large majority of healthcare organizations — 81% — expect to see a greater investment in telehealth over the next two to three years, according to Verizon's own research, while 85% of decisionmakers said ease of use was a top-five driver in producing good outcomes from virtual care.
Verizon bought BlueJeans a year ago for a reported $400 million as part of its push into the unified communications market. The company, which sees its B2B arm Verizon Business as a growth area, said its plan was to integrate the platform into its 5G product roadmap for its clients.
BlueJeans offers one-click access to its platform on a mobile device or desktop, without any need for downloads. Its landing page is customizable for providers, and includes patient onboarding, pre-visit medical surveys and education materials. The platform also offers medical interpreter services for patients in more than 200 languages, including sign language.
Verizon says the platform also embeds within existing EHR workflows. BlueJeans integrated with EHR giant Epic in October, in response to customer demand. However, a spokesperson clarified to Healthcare Dive that BlueJeans is currently only integrated with Epic EHRs, though other records are in the works and should be released soon.
The company declined to share a specific figure, but BlueJeans' current customers in the health and life sciences space include the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Amicus Therapeutics, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Penn Medicine and Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust.
Licensing is based on a per-visit model, to make the reimbursement process simpler. However, BlueJeans licenses will also be available in a named host format, the spokesperson said.
Numerous tech companies are moving to snap up a slice of the snowballing market through partnerships or their own differentiated offerings, angling to compete with entrenched telehealth behemoths like Teladoc Health. Notably, Amazon is rolling out its own virtual care network marketed to employers nationwide beginning this summer.
Despite rising competition in the space as companies salivate over unprecedented funding in digital health, market watchers say there's enough room for new entrants. Up to $250 billion in healthcare spending could eventually be digitized, according to McKinsey research. Comparatively, prior to the pandemic, the sum annual revenues of U.S. telehealth companies were estimated at just $3 billion.