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US virtual care company Teladoc established the healthcare industry’s first patient safety organization (PSO) that deals solely with virtual care. For context, a PSO is an organization that enables clinicians and health care organizations to voluntarily report, aggregate, and analyze data with the purpose of mitigating risks and medical errors, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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Dubbed the Institute for Patient Safety and Quality of Virtual Care, Teladoc’s PSO has been added to the roster of over 80 PSOs recognized by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Here’s what it means: The new PSO will fuel research that helps improve virtual care delivery.
- The PSO aims to help health firms enhance their virtual care offerings at a time of heightened consumer demand. The PSO will join forces with a range of healthcare stakeholders, like health systems and independent clinicians, to help healthcare organizations engage in research evaluating virtual care practices. And the launch comes at a time when health systems are likely looking to beef up virtual care offerings, as consumers are taking a greater interest in seeking out virtual care: 83% of consumers are interested in receiving virtual care, according to a new Vivify survey of 200 adults.
- And it’s already gearing up to press start on its first initiative: tackling the overprescription of antibiotics.The PSO’s first order of business will be to augment antibiotic stewardship efforts – endeavors that ensure antibiotics are appropriately prescribed and used – in virtual care settings. Overprescribing antibiotics is a pandemic issue in the US: Up to half of the antibiotics prescribed in US acute care hospitals aren’t necessary, the CDC reports. And telehealth providers came under fire for their lax prescription guidelines recently: Children who were seen by their doctors virtually were more likely to wind up with a antibiotic prescription for common respiratory infections than their peers who met with physicians face-to-face. By tackling such a rampant issue right off the bat, Teladoc’s PSO is getting off to a fast start.
The bigger picture: The PSO could empower providers to bulk up virtual care offerings – and Teladoc’s focus on enhancing virtual care could make it a natural choice for health systems to work with.
- The PSO’s launch could put some physician concerns at bay. Many doctors are wary of delivering care virtually, with nearly 40%of physicians pointing at “potential medical errors” as a reason they’d forgo engaging in virtual care, per a 2018 Deloitte survey. More research into virtual care practices could assuage these fears, boost physician trust, and bolster adoption of platforms that enable virtual care.
- And Teladoc’s slated to gain the trust of potential partners. With the launch of the first-ever virtual care PSO, Teladoc’s establishing itself as a telehealth leader that’s committed to finding best practices for delivering virtual care that will bolster patient outcomes and curb the possibility of medical errors. Gaining trust and support from healthcare organizations could bode well for the company, especially as competitors are gaining momentum: Doctor on Demand and InTouch Health recently upgraded their provider-facing telehealth platforms, for example. It’s likely its PSO will help Teladoc forge new partnerships and continue to carve out its place in the virtual care market.
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