by Tammy Graves

The Challenge

As COVID-19 shut down the economy, the impact was felt acutely across healthcare. Hospitals, ambulatory centers and physicians’ offices closed to all non-urgent patients, and providers sought ways to continue to deliver care to patients, with many implementing telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits.

An accountable care organization (ACO) that serves vulnerable populations across over 25 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) was one such provider who rapidly adopted telehealth. Previous attempts to implement telehealth capabilities were slow moving, but the pandemic required the organization to fast-track its telehealth services, accomplishing in weeks what had been in the works for over a year.

While our customer was successful in quickly implementing telehealth to convert in-person visits to a virtual environment, they now needed help determining a long-term strategy for telehealth.

Maturity Model Guides Long-Term Telehealth Vision

Point B worked with the ACO’s executive team to create a telehealth maturity model for FQHCs and determine what could/should be the future vision for delivering care to the vulnerable populations whom telehealth serves. The team set up the domains of a maturity model to devise a long-term strategy that considered a holistic view of the future of integrated telehealth. These domains included clinical (workflows, policy, procedures), tools and technology (platforms, electronic health record integration, remote patient monitoring tools, Wi-Fi, and hardware), strategy (leadership roles, change management, integration into financial and strategic plans), policy (drive towards value-based care, lobby for reimbursement parity), and people (patient and provider satisfaction, role and responsibility definition). Point B provided strategic guidance on telehealth evolution and how to apply health industry changes to their population. Leveraging the board-approved maturity model, the team designed the maturity assessment process for each FQHC and advised the customer through execution of that assessment.

Reliable Results

Through the implementation of the maturity model, the telehealth roadmap and program plans are now driving digital health equity for the ACO’s patient population. Leveraging the maturity model to assess the current state of telehealth and drive future-state design across all FQHC locations fostered an understanding and implementation of telehealth best practices. The maturity model outlines a clear strategy for the future that gives funders visibility, as well as key milestones, into how their investments are shaping those plans, and where their funding can be applied to help further the mission.