Children’s Health is leveraging technology to launch a new brand of care that will include telehealth services for adults as well as children.
Family Health launched Tuesday and aims to extend Children’s services to a larger demographic as well as provide new ways for patients to receive access to care. This marks the healthcare provider’s first separate brand as well as the first time the company has ventured into adult care.
“We’re providing amazing care in hospitals, but we’re also finding ways to get back to the home,” Julie Hall-Barrow, vice president of virtual health and innovation at Children’s Health, said, adding that the company has been looking for ways to maximize expansion with minimal overhead. “Children’s is just one of the health systems saying we’re going to use technology to do it.”
The new brand offers two services: Family Health On Call, a mobile application for on-demand house calls; and Family Health Virtual Visit, a pharmacy kiosk that will allow patients virtual access to healthcare professionals. The first kiosk went live Tuesday at Dougherty’s Pharmacy at Preston Royal Village.
“We’re looking to create innovative access points as we continue to evolve,” Hall-Barrow said.
Children’s has been focused on piloting new services and programs that leverage technology for the past year, adopting solutions that improve its offerings as well as bridge the gap between visits with primary care providers. It first launched a telehealth program across North Texas schools in August of last year. Then, via its investment arm Children’s Health Ventures, it funded Dallas startup Mend and Nashville, Tenn.-based GoNoodle. Children’s most recent investment was in March of this year, when it announced the funding and adoption of Pieces Technologies, a software company that helps organizations provide better service through data analytics. It also adopted Proteus Digital Health’s ingestible microchip and digital patch that can track adherence to dosage prescriptions.
Under Family Health, Children’s is taking its next steps with technology.
The Family Health On Call service is the result of Children’s partnership with Mend, which received investment and adoption in exchange for a 51 percent stake, that was solidified in December 2015. Since then, Children’s has been working with Mend’s founders to revamp the application to fit the new Family Health Brand. The new app is now fully integrated into Children’s systems and also gives patients the option to get advice from a nurse before scheduling a house call. It went live with the launch of Family Health.
“We’re able to utilize all the resources that Children’s has and now offer it through Family Health,” Christiana Yebra, Mend spokeswoman, said, adding that the application served about eight patients a day before Tuesday’s re-launch. “We did a lot of research into what patients were looking for and built that in.”
Family Health Virtual Visit was made possible via Children’s partnership with American Well, a Boston-based telemedicine company founded in 2006. The Virtual Visit kiosks are equipped with the tools to record a patient’s vital signals and other basic health measurements. They also offer patients live access to a health care professional via video call. A telehealth presenter will be on site to aid in the process if the patient needs any help with the technology. Once patients use the kiosk for their first visit, future appointments can be handled via their mobile device.
Children’s launched an internal pilot of Virtual Visit with its employees on Jan. 1 before rolling it out as part of its new brand’s offerings. The health system has two fulltime physicians dedicated to the Virtual Visit service. It plans to monitor the use of the kiosk and service over the next six months to determine the need for expansion.
“We’re really meeting the demands of our families, and hopefully providing another option,” Hall-Barrow said.