Practice merges telehealth, AI and voice to decrease admin workload
Florida’s Orlando Internal Medicine had relied heavily on manual efforts to facilitate administrative tasks.
Many of the challenges it was facing had obstacles that affected both patients and providers in the telehealth setting. For example:
- Physicians had to initiate virtual health sessions by manually calling their patients, which contributed to missed appointments and a resulting lower care-capacity.
- Medical assistants had to manually let physicians know that their intakes for patients were complete, instead of using an electronic notification process that would have facilitated the visit in a more-structured, time-efficient way.
- Physicians faced difficulty accessing lab results and other electronic health record content while on the call with the patient, which resulted in further delays.
“One hour of patient care followed two hours that were spent on administrative tasks, capturing and uploading patient data and documentation into the EHR and searching for and pulling up relevant information for each patient seen in the clinic,” said Dr. Pradeep Vangala, a physician at Orlando Internal Medicine.
“This inordinate amount of time spent on administrative tasks is an inefficiency that leads to an increase in stress and physician and staff burnout,” he said.
So the group practice turned to artificial intelligence and voice technology from health IT vendor Andor Health. Implementation was an expedited process; it took less than two weeks. The technology was able to scale with the increased number of patients that Orlando Internal Medicine was seeing virtually.
“Microsoft Teams provided the framework for virtual visits and ThinkAndor allowed us to push real-time clinical information to care teams and staff right to the Teams’ call using a configuration tool,” Vangala explained. “With the AI virtual assistant from Andor Health with the help of Microsoft Teams, we were able to create a workflow better equipped with the patient and provider in mind.”
"One example is dictation, saving our providers 8-10 minutes per patient that would have otherwise been spent writing progress notes on patient visits."
Dr. Pradeep Vangala, Orlando Internal Medicine
The group practice previously had experiences with a number of other standalone telemedicine tools, forcing it to use multiple platforms to properly access information it needed for each patient. It was not a sustainable long-term strategy.
“The platform from Andor Health integrated with Microsoft Teams provides a much smoother experience,” Vangala said. “The implementation was quick, and it was easy to train our staff on. The clinical integration was unmatched and greatly aids our physicians in session during virtual visits. The internal communications chat function also drove our decision, since this helped to keep our care teams up to date on patient status reports and [was] a way for physicians to get care recommendations from other providers within the practice.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
The artificial intelligence aspect of the platform reduced much of the time that would have been spent on administrative tasks by delivering critical, context-sensitive intelligence from disparate EHR systems across multiple care settings, Vangala explained. The practice’s providers have immediate access to patient data, including labs, X-rays and other tests.
“This has created improved operational efficiencies for our care providers,” he said. “One example is dictation, saving our providers 8-10 minutes per patient that would have otherwise been spent writing progress notes on patient visits. Our physicians are now seeing an estimated 125 patients each week and they are spending more time consulting with our patients and less time on administrative follow-up.”
As a comprehensive physician practice caring for a large volume of patients across ambulatory, acute-care, long-term acute-care and skilled nursing facilities, it is Orlando Internal Medicine’s responsibility to effectively collaborate with patients’ entire care team, both inside and outside its practice.
“Care coordination should involve an active communication stream, where care team members are notified instantly following an update in their patient’s care, including any immediate actions,” he stated. “If a patient is seen at a facility with a different EHR system, the care team is still notified – this is one of the prominent features of the technology.”
Since implementing the technology, Orlando Internal Medicine’s administrative workload has been reduced almost 60%, leading to an increase in clinical care capacity and reducing physician burnout. The result has dramatically improved patient care outcomes, and, in the end, created greater revenue streams for the practice, Vangala reported.
“Prior to implementation of ThinkAndor, we were conducting less than 10% of our visits virtually, even during the height of COVID-19, since other telemedicine technologies we had tried were not able to keep up with the workflow of our practice,” he said.
“The ThinkAndor AI bot feature has helped us achieve a 5x success rate with patients by transforming the operations of our practice, including aggregating patient data and identifying the discrete signals, alerts and workflows that need to be managed.”
The practice now is seeing patients exclusively using virtual tools with hundreds of visits per month, and 23-25 appointments seen daily.
“Since implementation, we have seen an increased productivity of clinical and administrative staff by 3x,” he reported. “This translates to eight to 12 minutes of staff time savings per patient in a virtual visit, allowing us to increase our clinical care capacity and the amount of patients we are able to see with the growing demand, especially during COVID-19.”
Within three days of sending a survey for patient feedback, the practice has received a 97% success rate, highlighting lower than average waiting room times at 4.6 minutes per patient and 16.4 minutes of direct one-on-one interaction with a physician or care team member. All of these metrics are leading to higher patient satisfaction rates.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Patient outcomes are the No. 1 priority,” Vangala advised. “When looking to implement a platform, healthcare organizations should understand how it can positively impact physician and patient experience in the long term. In the long run, this is a more efficient way to communicate between health providers and patients, and we advise selecting a platform that can enable a long-term, sustainable virtual health strategy for your organization.”
One way to do this is to ensure one is choosing a platform with built-in AI and machine learning functionality for patients of any age and language, with solutions such as translation services, he added.
“As institutions look for platforms that provide sustainable solutions, asking questions like, ‘Will the platform still be viable in five or ten years?’ is important,” he said. “It also should easily integrate with any EHR and ideally not be complicated, working with ubiquitous communications platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Overall, choosing a virtual health platform to meet your institution’s needs should not be a cumbersome process. It should efficiently provide solutions to the growing demand for patient services.”