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iTether is a behavioral healthcare management platform that is sold to healthcare providers and payers, enabling them to offer patients and members both population-based and personalized treatment plans to address issues across the behavioral health spectrum. The digital platform is integrated into a mobile application in which patients can fully immerse themselves. The content includes health-literacy courses; a patient’s goals, assessments, appointments, activities, and other resources designed to deliver real-time care, improved outcomes, and generate feedback. The logic embedded in the assessment tools can trigger predefined alerts and required actions by clinical staff.
In 2017, Sean Gunderson, iTether’s CEO and cofounder, identified two drivers that led him to pursue a video-chat component to the platform:
iTether’s providers lamented the high patient no-show rates they were experiencing, the associated counselors’ downtime, and the resulting lost revenue.
Video technology, messaging, and video content courses being delivered asynchronously were not billable —– only synchronous telehealth was billable. (Asynchronous offerings will become billable by CMS in 2019.)
Gunderson believed that if iTether could add a quick, easy, and affordable virtual solution to its platform, then clients could use this enhanced platform to drive down the no-show rates.
In early 2018, Gunderson and Wes Hodges, iTether’s CTO, considered various video vendors — including Vidyo — with SDKs. They looked for a partner who:
- Had a sophisticated API that supports multiple coding languages (including C# for mobile, Java Script, and Xamarin) and with which iTether could work and grow.
- Offered bandwidth support for mobile users with limited data plans or located in remote areas.
- Had an established customer base and a secure future.
- Had a genuine interest in iTether’s mission.
In the summer of 2018, Gunderson and Hodges chose Vidyo’s vidyo.io API. vidyo.io’s ease of use and fast development time, the solution’s bandwidth throttling that maintains a consistent communication signal for all users, and Vidyo’s very helpful sales and engineering team were the primary reasons that drove their decision.
“I was very surprised by how easy the Vidyo solution was to implement versus some of the other video vendors that we considered. We had expected much more work to configure and implement Vidyo into our platform,” Hodges said.
For an iTether Vidyo session, a provider launches a video call from the patient record within the iTether web-based clinical portal. The patient receives a link on their mobile app to join the call.
iTether trained its staff and clients on using the Vidyo solution, then conducted a soft launch with four customers in September 2018. The company expects to officially launch the telehealth-enhanced platform – which features HIPAA-compliant video – in the first quarter of 2019. With the Vidyo solution, the company will provide an integrated telehealth solution within a whole care management platform, relieving providers from having to use a separate standalone solution – including billing – for the telehealth session.
When a patient informs a facility that he or she will not make an appointment – even if that individual calls at the last minute – the provider can propose and immediately launch an on-the-spot telehealth session.
“Our telehealth solution offers a very strong ROI for our customers given they use our platform to reduce no-shows,” Gunderson said. “But it’s really about a better quality of care for the patient and the provider. When a clinician can meet immediately with an individual, they can prevent that patient from ending up in the ED/ER or in an adverse situation with law enforcement.”
According to Gunderson, the Vidyo solution also helps iTether acquire new customers. “When prospects see the ROI on the telehealth component – plus all of the other valuable components they get from our care management solution – that more than pays for our platform.”
iTether management initially thought that implementing video technology into its platform would be difficult to do. But Gunderson said, “We would’ve done this a year earlier if we’d known how quickly we could’ve integrated it. We’re very pleased with our partnership with Vidyo.”
iTether is looking to use the Vidyo solution for internal meetings because management believes that the video technology will be an effective collaboration tool for the company’s support staff.
Additionally, iTether is working on a Vidyo solution that will allow providers to conduct group video counseling sessions while protecting the identity and privacy of the participating patients.
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