Northwell Health pivots telehealth services to consumers

Northwell executive Martin Doerfler says hospitals can't just "check that box and move on" when it comes to telehealth.

After years of using a telehealth platform to allow clinicians to consult with one another, one of New York's largest health systems is taking steps to open the service up to patients.

The transition has created new opportunities for units throughout Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), according to mHealth Intelligence. A new partnership with a Virginia-based vendor has retooled the systems approach, paving the way for pilot projects across the spectrum of care.

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But making the transition to a consumer-facing model requires a comprehensive approach to full-scale integration, said Martin Doerfler, M.D., Northwell Health’s senior vice president of clinical strategy and development and associate chief medical officer.

“Hospitals should stop pretending that direct-to-consumer is telehealth in its entirety,” he said. “Stop doing it just to check that box and move on. It’s a commitment to turning the process inside out [and] becoming patient-centric.”

RELATED: Experts face off over the potential impact of ECHO

Hospital executives are shifting their focus toward telemedicine as patients gravitate to digital health tools, despite the fact that reimbursement obstacles still exist.

One of the nation’s largest telehealth initiatives, Project ECHO, has generated tremendous buzz within the healthcare industry, although some say its impact has been overblown.