Verizon jumps into virtual care market with BlueJeans Telehealth

Following its acquisition of video conferencing platform BlueJeans last year, Verizon has built out a telehealth platform for providers.

Many hospitals and health clinics have adopted video conferencing services during the pandemic for providing patient care. BlueJeans Telehealth, which launched Monday, was designed from the ground up for healthcare organizations to simplify the virtual experience and offer greater access to care, Verizon executives said in a press release.

“While the use of telemedicine has been steadily growing for some time now, the pandemic has accelerated telehealth adoption and changed the conversation around what patient care will look like moving forward,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, in a statement.

Verizon said it worked with an advisory board of health system clinicians and healthcare decision-makers to build BlueJeans Telehealth specifically to address the most pressing needs for a virtual-first telehealth offering, from ease of experience to enhanced security, executives said.

"Today’s launch is just the beginning for Verizon in what we see as the future of telehealth, especially when you consider the innovation that will come from 5G mobility, broadband and cloud capabilities," Erwin said.

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The telecommunications giant says its telehealth solution address two key challenges for providers and patients: tech literacy and efficiency.

The BlueJeans platform offers one-click, download-free access to a video telehealth experience via mobile device or desktop to minimize technology complications. The platform also expedites information sharing through a customizable landing experience that includes patient onboarding and education materials, according to the company.

Provider and consumer adoption of telehealth has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems, independent practices, behavioral health providers and other healthcare organizations rapidly scaled telehealth offerings to fill the gap between need and canceled in-person care.

Verizon is looking to get a slice of the rapidly growing market. 

Pre-COVID-19, the total annual revenues of U.S. telehealth players were an estimated $3 billion, with the largest vendors focused on virtual urgent care.

Telehealth is now poised to take a bigger share of the healthcare market as consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates that up to $250 billion, or 20% of all Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial outpatient, office and home health spend could be done virtually.

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During the past year, many healthcare organizations used BlueJeans video conferencing for telehealth services and patient-to-family communication. In October, in response to customer demand, BlueJeans worked with EHR giant Epic to engineer a BlueJeans integration with its medical records platform.

The majority of healthcare organizations (81%) expect to see a greater investment in telehealth solutions over the next two to three years, with 85% of decision-makers identifying “ease of use” as a top-five driver in producing good outcomes from telehealth, according to a Verizon survey.

Verizon designed the BlueJeans Telehealth service to provide a streamlined experience for providers, as visits are embedded directly within their existing electronic health record workflows, the company said.

For patients, medical interpreter services through partners such as Voyce, AMN Language Services and LanguageLine Solutions will be available in more than 200 languages, including sign language, in addition to transcription and closed captioning services for enhanced accessibility.

BlueJeans also built security and privacy features into the platform including access controls, encryption, privacy checks, locked meetings, fraud detection and moderator controls. Verizon says it will sign HIPAA business associate agreements with its customers that address regulatory requirements regarding privacy and security, the company said.

"The ability to offer virtual visits using tools like BlueJeans during this challenging time is not only helping to keep patients and practitioners like myself safe, it’s also providing a level of care that was previously missing," said Scott Boden, M.D., vice president for business innovation at Emory Healthcare, in a statement. "As we continue looking for new ways to tap into technology to drive better outcomes for our patients, it’s this personalization of care that will shape the future of healthcare."