Concentra’s major move into telemedicine

The largest occupational medicine company in the nation is jumping into telemedicine.

CEO Keith Newton and I spoke last week about Concentra’s rollout of its telemedicine program, following up on our in-depth discussion a month ago about the company’s plans and strategy.

The first patient interactions began a couple weeks ago with a limited rollout, and so far, patient reaction has been quite positive.  According to Newton, one of the first patients said “I love it so much I’m going to tell all my coworkers about it”.

Concentra is employing third-party technology vendor American Well’s web application to allow patients to “visit” Concentra’s physicians via the internet.

Here’s part one of our conversation.

MCM – What is Concentra’s approach to telemedicine today?

Newton – Our initial approach is to use telemedicine for [some] injury care and follow up rechecks with existing patients.  We have identified specific types of cases where [we will employ] telemedicine initially. Patients will be triaged 24/7 to an injury coordinator, then to an MD for secondary triage, then care [if appropriate via telemedicine]. We are also going to do PT and specialist care. There are a number of considerations including onsite staffing, load balancing, and reducing patient wait times. 20% or so of patients could be seen via telemedicine…California is our first state, we are initially doing visits from 7am – 11 pm; we’ll will add longer hours and multiple states over time.

MCM – Describe the technology you are using.

Newton -We met with 10-15 technology companies working in telemedicine to learn as much as possible. We are using American Well for the connection only, all back-end applications are internal Concentra applications so we access their technology…it is not an integration but using their tech for the “visit” and using Concentra’s Allscripts and Occusource internal applications for documentation [and other functions].

MCM – How are telemedicine interactions different from office visits?

Newton – You need the right intake coordinators and physicians. In a bricks and mortar setting [normal live office visit] there is lots of activity going on in the clinic. When you are on video it is just you and the patient, the doctors have to engage and show focus on the patient, connect with them one-on-one, maintain eye contact.That puts the patient at ease. This may make for better and stronger patient – physician relations and connections via telemedicine. It could also make in-person visits more productive and satisfying for patients and providers as they adopt that behavior for live encounters as well.

 

MCM – Tell me about the process Concentra used to prepare to see patients via telemedicine.

Newton – Internally we did about a hundred “mock visits” to make it as seamless as possible to make sure patient experience was made as successful as possible. [We] used internal staff as testers to provide feedback, improve the process and service. There will be continuing evolution; there are new tools arriving every day, some of which may be useful for incorporation into the telemedicine process. Things will look different in a few months – for now, we are looking to make it as simple as possible for any stakeholder – the payer employer or patient.

Tomorrow we’ll get into more details…

What does this mean for you?

Telemedicine is going to be highly disruptive to care delivery models, and has broad implications for all stakeholders. 

 

3 thoughts on “Concentra’s major move into telemedicine

  1. Thank you Joe for the article. One thought. I can see the benefit of this for the Injured Worker’s time and cost savings for the adjusters. However couldn’t this also open up a higher chance of fraudulent claims/complaints from the IW. If there is no physical contact from the physician then how are they supposed to assess the injured workers pain tolerance or range of motion issues. How do they get a true assessment on how the Injured Worker is doing?

    Maybe the decision on who has to physically come in for a visit vs someone who does it on line would be decided based on their needs. And I am assuming that is probably how they decide. Common sense. Assessing the healing of a wound on-line would be much more reasonable then assessing the progress of a knee or shoulder injury that needs physical contact to truly assess.

    Do you know of other companies besides Concentra that are doing telemedicine more and more? Just curious how popular this is going to become…sounds like that is what the future holds.

    Thanks again.

    • Hey Spencer – thanks for the note. I believe the triage function addresses those questions, and there is a decision tree in place to determine which situations are best handled thru which methods. I don’t know what that process looks like specifically.

      CHC Telehealth is also involved in this business, and many payers are looking hard at this. I agree – it is going to be a major driver in work comp medical care going forward.

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