PROFILE: Telemedicine; Primary Care in Your Pajamas

In the not too distant future, more Coloradans will be able to have face-to-face consultations with their primary care doctors without leaving the comfort of their homes. AccessCare is working to make integrated and interactive telehealth appointments a reality for their members.

In 2012, nonprofit health plan Colorado Access recruited Alexander Vo, PhD to expand their reach and mission with telehealth development. Dr. Vo was then Executive Director of the Center for Telehealth Research and Policy at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). UTMB is a leader in the telemedicine industry with one of the largest operational telehealth systems in the nation. AccessCare grew out of Colorado Access’ intent to develop teleheatlh services on an enterprise level, with Dr. Vo as the Chief Executive Officer. AccessCare Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jay Shore articulates the goal of the initiative simply, “to enable access to quality and affordable care.”

There are two companies under the AccessCare umbrella: AccessCare Technology and AccessCare Services. Both have a regional and national scope with headquarters here in Denver.

AccessCare Technology hosts a multipoint video-conferencing platform, on which AccessCare Services are provided. Patients in situations where access to care is limited by distance or circumstance can use this platform to consult with their providers via a secure internet connection. Dr. Shore shares that the platform “will scale to meet the demands of providers, facilitating on-demand consultation and integrated care, built around multipoint video conferencing.  It features on-demand scheduling, simplified workflow management, multipoint curbside consults, patient encounter note sharing, as well as electronic health data and aggregation capabilities.” The appointments are face-to-face, using a standard web camera and internet browser. No other hardware or software is required for either the provider or patient. Other doctors or specialists can be conferenced in to the same appointment and clinical information and documentation is incorporated directly into the patient’s record.

AccessCare Services revolutionizes health care delivery by not only integrating behavioral health and medical care into one easy to use interface but also enabling care coordination across the spectrum of providers. Patients with multiple conditions and multiple providers can have challenges keeping all players up to date on their care, and AccessCare Services provides one information hub for all providers. The services “can be customized for a single practice, delivery system or individual,” adds Dr. Shore, “Types of care that can be supported include: complex case consultation and supervision, ongoing clinical services including medication management, evidence-based therapies and case management, behavioral health triage consults, emergency psychiatric support and integrated psychiatric care with primary care.”

Telemedicine is showing tremendous promise to support healthcare reform.  It reduces transportation time and effort for patients and professionals and the robust care coordination has the potential to eliminate redundant and unnecessary testing. These combined are anticipated to lower costs while raising the level of care provided. Because of the potential impact, Dr. Shore and Colorado Access believe that this program will change the way people receive care.

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Previously published as part of CIVHC’s Spotlight on Innovation series.