Patient support in the pandemic era


Hub service providers look to telehealth to expand patient connectivity

The heart of most patient support/hub services is a call center, where case managers or care coordinators help patients along their journey from initial prescription fulfillment to ongoing chronic care. There has been a trend, in recent years, to expand the use of multichannel communications—specifically texting—to complement this service. Now, with the arrival of the lockdown conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, a different aspect of multichannel communications is emerging—video conferencing.

Video conferencing has been widely publicized during this pandemic for doctors to stay in touch with patients who couldn’t visit the office, and state medical boards have loosened regulations to allow prescribing, provider reimbursement and other healthcare procedures to occur via video conference. But unlike Zoom and other widely used, consumer-oriented conferencing services, there is a requirement for HIPAA compliance.

“HIPAA-compliant video conferencing by healthcare providers is telemedicine; what we do is telehealth,” says Julia Murphy, VP reimbursement operations at Occam Health, a member of the relatively small coterie of manufacturer-sponsored hub service providers involved in patient support. Her company was well-prepared for this shift to video conferencing, she says, because its underlying enterprise-IT system, branded as CloudScript, is cloud-based, and is networked to a variety of HIPAA-compliant telehealth services. “We had been building up this service on a limited basis prior to the pandemic; now it is being widely used by our care coordinators who are working from home offices.”

Video conferencing has proved invaluable for Occam’s national team of field-based nurses, who now constitute a “virtual nursing service” for such projects as vial and syringe injection training. Previously, this would have been performed by an in-person home visit; now it is occurring virtually.

Data integration

All hub providers offer some level of multichannel support, and it is probable that many offer video conferencing as well. In Occam’s case, Murphy says that the communications goes well beyond simply connecting with the patient; sessions are recorded, and data streams from the interaction to CloudScripts’ tracking of patient interactions and results; integration with CRM systems like Veeva or Salesforce occur as well (for deidentified tracking of the hub provider’s service levels).

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