Leslie Saltzman, DO is medical director at Tandigm Health, a West Conshohocken, PA-based company helping primary care practices transition to value-based care models. The company, which is a joint venture between DaVita HealthCare Partners and Independence Blue Cross, has 380 primary care physicians in its network of 112 practices. It is the one of the only organizations in the Philadelphia market outside of payers that has taken on full risk for its patient population. Tandigm Health launched virtual visits through a partnership with TouchCare last month.
What was the impetus for implementing telemedicine services? How do you plan on rolling it out to your practices?
One of our main goals at Tandigm Health is to combine tradition and innovation. We are constantly looking for unique ways to innovate around quality care delivery. As such, we recently partnered with mobile health company TouchCare to enable our physicians to connect securely with patients face-to-face by video. This new telemedicine program is one of the many ways we enable our doctors to improve access, engagement and health management for our patients. After completing a successful five-month pilot program in May, we are now in the process of expanding the TouchCare program and making it available to our network of 380 physicians by the end of the year.
How do you hope its utilization will benefit your practices and their patients?
Overall, I believe that the TouchCare model will produce benefits for both the patient and the provider. The unique video appointment platform allows our network of physicians to connect with their patients in an easy, effective, and convenient way. The telemedicine program gives Tandigm’s physicians the tools to improve access, engagement, and health management through telephonic and video support. This platform is one component in Tandigm’s comprehensive effort to lower costs and increase the satisfaction of chronically ill patients by reducing admissions and readmissions, and unnecessary utilization of emergency departments.
What sort of healthcare technology adoption/implementation challenges are unique to practices that partner with an organization like Tandigm?
When implementing new tools and technologies, there are always hurdles to overcome. For example, the TouchCare telemedicine model is not integrated into the physician group EHRs. Therefore, when a doctor uses the TouchCare system, they may still need to refer to their own system to make a note for the visit. Integrating technologies across various platforms can be a challenge, but it emphasizes the importance of coordinating care and unifying documentation.
What’s next on the horizon for Tandigm in terms of new healthcare technologies? Have any timelines been established?
Currently, Tandigm is in the first phase of conducting a pilot program with a HIPAA-compliant texting platform. This unique platform has the ability to enable our physicians to access important patient data, such as details of an ER visit, via a secure app. We’ll be sharing more about this partnership in the coming months.
What has the physician reaction to MACRA been like since the proposed rule was released? How will Tandigm help its physicians navigate this new program?
As the proposed MACRA rule is still incredibly new, we have not received much feedback from our physicians. However, Tandigm makes it a priority to provide our network of physicians with the information and resources they need to navigate any new programs or legislation.