STeM: Steering Value-Based Care in Telehealth Services

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Heather Barrett, Chief Operating Officer, STeMHeather Barrett, Chief Operating Officer
Specialist TeleMed (SteM) is a physician-led multispecialty Joint Commission accredited telemedicine provider for hospitals, clinics, and remote locations worldwide with more than 24+ medical and surgical specialties offered. STeM provides both inpatient and outpatient specialist services supporting communities of all sizes. By supporting local providers and existing specialists in a synergistic, non-competitive manner, STeM allows facilities of all sizes to thrive and grow, reducing unnecessary transfers and facilitating the standards of care locally.

In an interview with MD Tech Review, Heather Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of Specialist TeleMed, talks about the telehealth space and how the company’s solution model is designed towards high quality, integrated, patient-centered care.

Elaborate on how you were at the forefront of delivering telehealth services as a company during the pandemic?

Our mission has always been to provide patients with valuebased care while keeping them in their communities, giving them the care they deserve and require on a local level. We give specialized care to patients in rural and remote locations without isolating them from their friends and families, fostering a healing environment.
COVID has demonstrated the importance of value-based care and keeping patients within their communities without transferring them outside to other tertiary centers. As we are able to set up services in 24 hours in communities with urgent coverage needs, we could increase the breadth in which we provide services to hospitals of all given sizes. We have an extremely affordable model. We’ve based our pricing model without tiers and strictly based on utilization.

Our affordable model has been convenient, especially during the pandemic when hospitals could utilize us as a technology solution. Hospitals were able to get care immediately to patients with medical issues outside of COVID, who didn’t want to come to the hospital for the care they needed but had a model that established the rapport and relationship with patients remotely.

Hospitals appreciate providers that can support them with a multitude of services in an affordable manner. Our services can be utilized not only for inpatient needs but also for the follow-up care patients desperately need from an outpatient perspective.

What is the mode of approach that set you apart from the competition?

There are a few things that separate us from our competitors. First, we are technology agnostic. We use the equipment and the video platform in which hospitals have already invested if it is available, otherwise, we provide an ‘at-cost’ technology platform. This allows hospitals to keep the costs down for the service while remaining focused on providing specialty care.

Secondly, we have created a physician pod™ that ensures privileges and credentialing of every physician that works in the hospital. Some of our competitors have a large bench of physician providers and require a hospital to credential sometimes as many as 50 providers.

As a physicianled company, we focus on providing specialist services to healthcare entities through care delivery models that best suit the needs of their organization and Alexander Mason patient population

We believe that is extremely inefficient because every time the patient care team member calls, they get a different physician. To tackle this inefficiency, we created a very intimate structure that allows the clinical teams at the hospitals to build a close rapport and relationships with a tight-knit pod of providers. Our virtual physician pod, which includes five to seven providers, constantly work to establish a close relationship with clinical team members.

When clinical team members get to know the physicians on a very professional and personal level and vice-versa, efficiency increases and creates a lasting relationship within the service team, which reflects positively in the care provided to the patient as well.

Thirdly, STeM is not a ‘one-size fits all’ model. Specialist TeleMed consistently and expediently provides high-quality specialist physician clinicians, matched carefully to an organization’s unique patient population and organizational needs. Specialist TeleMed clinicians are hand-selected to meet the local clinical needs and integrate directly into the local workflow and systems, becoming part of their existing care team, benefiting their organization and patients. This integration, along with Specialist TeleMed’s dedication to supporting its clinicians, helps with engagement and retention to further solidify the provider’s partnership with the care team.

Finally, our cost-friendly pricing model that charges a flat-fee, starting with as few as one consultation a month minimum - which truly separates us from the rest of our competitors. Our model includes three types of consults: a new patient consult, a follow up consult and a peer-to-peer consult. All three consults are priced individually with a low flat fee. For instance, there are times when we have physicians at hospitals who only have a single question about changing a medication and don’t need to be charged a full consultation price. We take that into account in our pricing model.

Our model fits the needs of each hospital, and we customize everything that we do, from the workflow to the types of services we are providing. All our physicians are board certified and document every service rendered directly into the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR), providing real-time documentation and communication to the other clinical team members at the hospital.

As a physician-led company, we focus on providing specialist services to healthcare entities through care delivery models that best suit the needs of their organization and patient population.

Could you elaborate on a customer success story?

We are working with a hospital that has long-struggled to recruit psychiatrists to their location, resulting in a shortage of psychiatry services available to the local community, both pediatric and adult. That being the case, when a patient would come into the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation, the hospital didn’t have the required staffing to properly render care in a timely manner. Patients would be held in the emergency department until an evaluation could be completed by a psychiatrist, sometimes up to 3-days.

Upon onboarding the client, we were able to evaluate psychiatry patients without delay, shortening the length of stay for patients. This freed beds, medical resources and clinical staff to provide needed emergency attention to other patients. It was a huge accomplishment to render services that enabled psychiatrists to see patients right away, provide a medication management routine and follow-up treatment, and most importantly, provide an outlet of care in a very fast manner.

What does the future hold for STeM?

The pandemic has shown everyone that telehealth is here to stay. STeM will be a prominent player in this rapidly evolving sector, providing physician services across all platforms. This involves adding more specialty services, higher levels of care, and new lines of business. On a school board level, we will develop relationships and provide treatment, ensuring that children have access to board-certified physicians. In correctional facilities, we will expand our current provision of services from a single state to nationwide. We’ll be strengthening our relationships with vendors and making sure that all our hospitals and facilities are equipped with the latest and most cost-effective technology. Lastly, we’ll also be working with officials of the federal government concerning various aspects of billing/reimbursements and advocating for the telehealth rights of individuals on a nationwide level.
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Denver, CO

Heather Barrett, Chief Operating Officer

Specialist TeleMed (SteM) is a physician-led multi-specialty telemedicine provider for hospitals, clinics, and remote locations worldwide with more than 19+ medical and surgical specialties.