With the rapid and devastating spread of COVID-19, one thing is for sure: the age of telehealth is here and it’s not going away. While the Department of Health & Human Services moves swiftly to establish broader guidelines around this new channel for care delivery, many IT organizations are scrambling to make sense of this sudden, inevitable leap into a world of virtual care delivery. And with $22 billion dollars in subsidies through the CARES Act, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to fund and build a successful telehealth program.
To be fair, telemedicine software isn’t a new concept, and many organizations have already implemented telehealth programs with varying degrees of success. Some challenges, such as reimbursement rules, will have to be solved by legislation, but technology-related challenges – complexity, cost, patient usability, lack of integration – are solvable today. These are the challenges we set out to solve through TigerTouch⁺.
With a decade of healthcare communication expertise and thousands of organizations relying on our technology 24/7 to connect doctors, nurses, and support staff, we know how important it is to build functional, reliable, and delightfully easy solutions that people actually want to use.
So as we launch TigerTouch⁺, we want to call out some of the key principles we followed when building the product.
Usability is an oft-underestimated barrier to technology adoption. Seemingly small hurdles in the user experience can trip up less tech-savvy users, particularly for those who didn’t grow up with a smartphone (or any phone, for that matter) in their pocket. So the first order of business for the TigerTouch⁺ product team was to make the patient experience foolproof.
The team achieved this through a simple, two-step process. Once a patient’s info is added to TigerConnect, a care professional or administrator sends a message to the patient through the app, triggering a standard text link. This starts the conversation. The link takes users to a secure mobile browser screen that looks and feels like a familiar messaging app where they can start typing. It’s literally that easy. Nothing to download, no URLs to memorize, and no passwords to manage, and the conversation window remains open for up to three months. Patients can message anytime and can share photos, videos, and documents.
Doctors, nurses, and other care professionals have enough to worry about without fielding random phone calls from patients or getting barraged by messages through a patient portal. To protect their time and attention, patient outreach through TigerTouch⁺ is initiated by a care team member or a healthcare admin. Once a text conversation is started, the patient can text his or her healthcare contact anytime for up to a few months. And because texting is non-interruptive, replies can be done when it’s convenient for the care professional.
Just like texting, video and voice sessions can only be initiated by the care professionals but with one big difference – every video or voice session must be initiated by the care professional for every call. Otherwise, you’d have the same phone call problem everyone’s trying to get away from. For patients, the experience is like most face-to-face consumer video apps. Recipients get a real-time alert when a call is initiated and they simply tap a button to join the session.
No one in Healthcare wants ‘another app on their phone’ – not clinicians, not patients. For that simple reason, TigerTouch⁺ lives inside the same TigerConnect app that care teams have used for years, but with a single icon that lets users hop between the provider and patient worlds with a single tap. Messages from patients arrive in a separate inbox with badge notifications. Care staff can reply or seamlessly share messages to the clinical side for consults with anyone inside a health system’s directory.
For roles like physicians, nurses, discharge planners, case managers, and social workers, who frequently or occasionally engage with patients, it’s a convenient way to interact without a lot of logistical hoops.
Even though it’s still early days for TigerTouch⁺, we realize the power that integrations with the right 3rd-party technology can bring. And while we can’t speak to what’s planned, we can say that the product has been engineered to specifically accommodate technologies that will further streamline the provider-patient dialogue. And given that TigerConnect is 100% cloud-based, customers can expect a rapid and frequent cadence of new partner-based capabilities, so stay tuned over the coming months as we introduce powerful, time-saving integrations.
As the originator of ephemeral text messaging, TigerConnect was founded on the principle of protecting patients’ data, and we’ve faithfully continued this tradition throughout our history. We know we could have stopped at HIPAA-compliance, but since customer trust is everything for us, we went the extra mile to earn HITRUST CSF Certification to ease the concerns of CIOs and customer IT departments.
We recently saw CMS relax the rules on telehealth security, allowing consumer apps for messaging and video to be allowed as viable options in this time of crisis. While we support sick patients getting care by whatever means necessary, we ask, why not have both – convenience and security? Besides, eventually, the security spotlight will refocus back on telehealth, and organizations that invested in secure, purpose-built, virtual care solutions at the outset will enjoy a healthy head start in the next resurgence or pandemic.
TigerTouch+: Video, Voice & Text in one Easy App
Simple and secure virtual communication for providers and patients
So, whether you’re an organization with no communication solution in place or one that’s far down the road, TigerTouch⁺ can help you connect with patients faster and more effectively than you’re doing it today. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single provider practice caring for a handful of patients or a massive health system with hundreds of thousands of patients, connecting is now easier than ever.
Words are great, but demos are better. Click here to see a short demo of TigerConnect and get your questions answered by one of our product experts.