Ignis Health licenses Telehealth Service Implementation Model to set up new program
Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Nov 11 2020
The Medical University of South Carolina and Ignis Health share a common goal – improving telehealth. Earlier this month, Ignis licensed the Telehealth Service Implementation Model (TSIM), a roadmap for setting up a telehealth program developed by Shawn Valenta, former administrator for the MUSC Health Center for Telehealth, and other telehealth experts at MUSC.
Ignis, which has a robust analytics platform known as the Telehealth Resource Program (TRP), has enhanced TSIM with robust TRP performance dashboards to create a complete software solution for hospitals and health care systems interested in expanding their telehealth services.
TSIM was born from MUSC's own experience with launching telehealth services. An early adopter of telehealth, MUSC is now one of only two federally designated telehealth centers of excellence in the nation. The MUSC Health Center for Telehealth, headquarters of the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, offers a wide variety of telehealth programs across the state.
However, like other institutions, MUSC felt growing pains when, in 2013, it began to rapidly ramp up its telehealth efforts rapidly. Programs that had grown up organically across different specialties did not always share the same technology or workflows.
Valenta was charged with uniting these individual telehealth programs into a cohesive center, standardizing processes and aligning missions.
"As we pushed forward, we started having a lot of telehealth service development and implementation challenges," said Valenta, who is now vice president of the Clinical Hub for WellPath.
"There was variability in how we created services, which created operational support challenges. There was no existing framework that took you from the telehealth idea, through development, through implementation and through long-term sustainability of a telehealth service."
Over the past few years, Valenta and others at the Center for Telehealth developed TSIM, a comprehensive guide on how to develop, implement and sustain telehealth services. TSIM is a dynamic system that can be used by a small hospital to develop a couple of telehealth programs or by a large health system to implement enterprisewide telehealth services.
"Telehealth might sound basic, but it's more than just enabling video," explained Valenta. "It involves a lot of modalities and covers multiple specialties. With TSIM, you have a roadmap for everyone on your team to follow the necessary steps for each of the specialties and each of the modalities you are trying to implement."
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It was Valenta's presentation about TSIM at a telehealth conference that caught the attention of Najib Ben Brahim, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Ignis Health. Ignis had developed the telehealth data analytics platform, TRP, which provides robust metrics to measure the success of telehealth efforts.
"TRP measures the telehealth performance and activity across the enterprise," explained Ben Brahim. "It does that through a comprehensive overview of what is going on from an operational standpoint and a financial standpoint. We also assess clinical quality along the way."
Ben Brahim immediately recognized the potential synergy between TSIM and TRP and reached out to Valenta, who was eager to join forces.
In early October, Ignis licensed TSIM from MUSC's Foundation for Research Development. Valenta and Ben Brahim believe that the synergies between the two platforms can propel telehealth initiatives forward. TSIM provides a blueprint for implementation of telehealth while TRP is a means to monitor the success of telehealth efforts.
"Putting TSIM and TRP together could be the holy grail of telehealth development," said Valenta. "TSIM provides a standardized way to develop a service efficiently and effectively and monitor and track performance, and TRP provides a robust data index."
The TRP-enhanced TSIM software solution has much to offer the many health systems that expanded telehealth during the pandemic but may not know how best to sustain and grow those efforts.
The big promise of telehealth is completely redesigning the way care is delivered in a more efficient, effective way. That means you must determine the goals of delivering the service, and you may have to redesign completely what that care is. Without the framework to do it in an effective, standardized way, people will make costly mistakes."
Shawn Valenta, Former Administrator, Health Center for Telehealth, Medical University of South Carolina
At the end of the day, Valenta and Ben Brahim are motivated and inspired by the most important aspect of telehealth – the patient. Their close collaboration is helping them to realize their number one goal – providing people with access to high-quality and cost-effective health care.