Virtual care platform company eVisit acquired Bluestream Health to add digital front door capabilities, integrated language services and other digital tools to its solution.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
EVisit also gained Bluestream Health's customers to build out its partnerships with health systems. The company works with more than 50,000 provides and 500 health systems to provide patient "front door" capabilities and tools to transition brick-and-mortar workflows into virtual with a focus on triage/escalation and efficient handoff to clinical delivery, according to the company.
EVisit currently works with 100 healthcare delivery organizations spanning 2,000 sites of care. More than 275,000 clinicians across all 50 states have access to eVisit to facilitate the delivery of millions of encounters annually, according to the company.
The company will add 200 additional languages and American Sign Language from Bluestream's translation services into its telehealth solution.
Sachin Agrawal, eVisit's CEO, said Bluestream Health has a similar approach and ethos to reconstruct care using a digital foundation.
"There are a lot of complementary capabilities between the organizations. Bluestream has done some very elegant, innovative work in integrating language translation and integrating digital front doors that are better reached by the lower income populations and important for social determinants of health courtesy of their work with some pretty significant public health institutions around the country," Agrawal said in an interview.
"That couples nicely with some of the more heavy-duty, sophisticated workflow and infrastructure that eVisit has spent 'x' dollars developing. Product-wise, for us, this is a 'one plus one equals more than two' situation," he noted.
As telehealth evolves, health systems are strategically focused on better integrating virtual care and building out "digital health 2.0."
That has been a key focus for eVisit since it launched in 2015, according to Agrawal, who was promoted to the CEO role back in January.
"Our entire reason for existence in the market is to enable hospitals, health systems and complex healthcare delivery organizations to reengineer how they do virtual care workflow rather than taking existing brick-and-mortar workflow and saying, 'Hey, we're gonna slap two-way video on it, or we're going to try to slap a chat on it.' Imagine a world where you can re-architect what that entire process looks like, and so we're a virtual care operating platform that enables that," he said.
The integration of Bluestream Health's capabilities will focus on combining "two highly innovative platforms that we think represent the future of how complex healthcare organizations need to think about digital care," Agrawal said.
Post-pandemic virtual care strategies
Like many other virtual care platforms, eVisit's business benefited from the rapid shift to telehealth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The company nabbed $45 million in series B funding in September 2021 backed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s growth equity business along with other investors including Texas Health Resources and Health Catalyst co-founders Tom Burton and Steve Barlow.
"I think the pandemic also exposed the fact that organizations had to implement this infrastructure and didn't really have a strategic lens by which to do it. Many organizations are now picking their heads up and saying, 'We implemented six, seven or 10 different technologies and they're not connected to how we deliver care and they don't enable us to re-engineer how we want to deliver care.' What's interesting is that I think the impact of the pandemic is being felt more kind of post-pandemic than what eVisit experienced during the pandemic itself."
MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. region, has worked with Bluestream Health for five years and is doubling down on its virtual care strategy.
EVisit's acquisition of Bluestream Health offers the opportunity to deeply integrate digital health tools into patient care as part of MedStar Health's "multiyear transformation agenda," according to Bill Sheahan, chief innovation officer at MedStar Health.
"We're really excited about the approach that is eVisit's core DNA, which is a provider-focused platform for digital care, delivery and transformation," said Sheahan in an interview.
"We've leveraged Bluestream Health as our enterprise telehealth platform because we believe in that kind of flexible, adaptable approach to telehealth that really enables care model transformation versus just simply moving from in-person to two-way video," said Sheahan, who also serves as executive director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation.
He added, "We see our telehealth platforms and partnerships really being strategic in helping us to leverage digital care in new ways to truly kind of deconstruct care model service line by service line and then reconstruct them with digital as a principal."
MedStar Health is focused on scaling up virtual consultations between providers or providers and care teams. "We do more than 100,000 of those emergency medicine contacts each year across our system," inclusive of cardiology, psychiatry and other specialties, Sheahan noted.
"That has allowed us to distribute our expertise differently not considering geography but using technology instead of vehicles and in place of humans in physical locations," he noted.
MedStar Health has been building out virtual care capabilities for nearly a decade but at a smaller scale. Working with Bluestream, the health system was able to quickly scale up telehealth to 4,000 providers in about a week during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
The health system estimates that it supported more than 2 million telehealth encounters in the past three years. And that figure reaches beyond ambulatory video visits to include total telehealth encounters, according to MedStar Health officials.
Telehealth visits now make up, on average, about 15% to 20% of MedStar Health's patient encounters, depending on the service line, with 80% of psychiatry care still delivered virtually, Sheahan noted. The health system conducts about 20,000 to 25,000 ambulatory telehealth visits monthly, he added.
"Now is the hard work of deliberately deconstructing care models and reconstructing service line-level care with digital as a foundation, rather than what happened during the pandemic, which was really just a reactionary transition from in-person care to two-way synchronous video," he noted. "We think that the business capability, particularly on that direct-to-consumer, synchronous two-way video, is going to take our own ambulatory telehealth platform to the next level."