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HomeHealthMetroHealth and MUSC Health launch virtual-first telehealth company

MetroHealth and MUSC Health launch virtual-first telehealth company

by News7

It is no secret that health systems face growing competition from industries like venture-backed healthcare disruptors and health insurance that are offering increasingly specialized and consumer-focused virtual care offerings.


The MetroHealth System is Ohio’s Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net health system, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, its nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing the community with equitable healthcare – through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services – that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers.

The fundamental challenge MetroHealth faced was that none of the services available provided a comprehensive solution to its or its patients’ needs, and instead created a variety of point systems that the organization then had to integrate and manage.

“As we considered this, we realized that no one knows a health systems’ patient population as well as a health system itself,” said Dr. Nabil Chehade, executive vice president and chief clinical transformation officer at The MetroHealth System. “That’s when we had a bold vision that we could develop a new approach, which is how Ovatient came about. It is a turnkey system that puts our patients first, meeting them where they are and connecting them more deeply to their care at MetroHealth.

“By collaborating with MUSC Health to establish this new company, we are building a solution that leverages the healthcare DNA of our health systems while serving as a catalyst for innovation,” he said. “Because the team at Ovatient understands how health systems work and, honestly, sometimes where we struggle, we are minimizing disruptions and are being pushed by Ovatient to improve our processes. We think is a true differentiator and is leading to our success.”

Ovatient is a virtual-first healthcare company that puts a person at the center of how they receive care and improve their health. Ovatient’s team of virtual providers and care team members work closely with health system partners to provide patients with connected, coordinated and convenient virtual care. Ovatient integrates with hospital system and patient medical records via Epic and MyChart, providing a personalized patient experience that empowers care teams with nearly real-time data.

As the health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of healthcare providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond.

Patient care is provided at 16 hospitals with approximately 2,700 beds and four additional hospital locations in development, more than 350 telehealth sites, and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2023, for the ninth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina.

MUSC Health staff are proud of the work they’ve done embracing virtual care since its earliest days, said Dr. Patrick J. Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health and executive vice president for health affairs at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“In fact, we are home to one of the only two National Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the country,” he continued. “What Ovatient offers us that is new and exciting is a chance to go deeper with both existing patient populations and engage new patients across the state of South Carolina in offering them a dedicated virtual multispecialty practice. Moreover, we see Ovatient as a means by which we can employ our expertise and take it further.

“Transformation in healthcare is needed,” he added. “We believe the way to drive innovation that benefits our patients is to enable health systems to transform, leveraging comprehensive, high-quality virtual care that is connected to traditional brick-and-mortar locations. That is what makes Ovatient different.”

Ovatient delivers virtual care services built on and connected to health systems’ own instances of Epic and MyChart. This breaks down silos and more seamlessly connects patients with care teams and new, innovative digital health tools, he said.


Ovatient as an idea was born several years ago through a collaboration between MUSC Health and MetroHealth. That gives Ovatient a competitive edge, the company contended. Unlike startups founded on the outside that design systems and then look for problems to solve, Ovatient was created with a clear view of the needs and challenges many health systems all over the country face every day, Cawley said.

“The company’s approach has evolved as we explored the virtual care space, our unique needs and what we saw as the best opportunities to serve health systems with a comprehensive, coordinated and connected virtual care solution,” he explained.

“The key to Ovatient’s business model is its virtual-first care approach,” he continued. “Patients should have the option to get care wherever they are and be guided through their health journey by trusted virtual care providers, including being connected directly to in-person care, if needed.”

It is important to note that while Ovatient is staffed by skilled and specially trained virtual care providers, it is not a competitor to the health systems’ traditional sites of care, he added.

“We see it as an extension and complementary to these care sites,” he explained. “For us, Ovatient is a new MUSC Health virtual care practice that is integrated into our existing way of doing things, from credentialing to quality measurement, safety reporting and even billing.”

The goal of Ovatient is all about unlocking new opportunities for health systems by enhancing healthcare delivery and improving patient experiences, Chehade said.

“It offers convenient access to a broad spectrum of care services and empowers patients to take an active role in their health, leading to improved health outcomes and higher patient engagement,” he noted. “It creates seamless coordination between virtual and in-person care teams and a comprehensive care model that streamlines operations, reduces redundancies, and drives savings by focusing on preventive care, early intervention and fewer visits to the emergency department.

“It helps health systems rapidly scale our services to reach broader patient populations that we could not easily reach on our own,” he continued. “And it leverages our investments in unique differentiators in our markets, like MetroHealth’s pharmacy and ancillary service networks, as well as our range of specialty services.”


Ovatient is an extension of MetroHealth’s care teams.

“We are so confident in this solution that we are migrating much of our dedicated virtual care options to Ovatient,” Chehade noted. “We call it MetroHealth Virtual Care services powered by Ovatient, and it is prominently visible on our website alongside traditional sites of care and promoted to our community through our marketing efforts.

“We currently offer Virtual Urgent Care, Same-Day Primary Care and Scheduled Primary Care, and we plan to add mental health and other specialty services later this year,” he said. “Patients with an established relationship with a MetroHealth provider can take advantage of virtual care services. And their providers, including in-person and virtual, work together to coordinate care that fits their needs.”

Ovatient is built on Epic and MyChart. Because of that connection, Ovatient can easily refer patients and coordinate care within the organization.

“Our patients know they can go to our website or our MyChart and not download another different app,” Chehade said. “They will see all of their visits and medical information in MyChart. Their care will be coordinated. Having one place to go and a team of dedicated virtual providers that complements their existing care team and ensures convenient access to high-quality care is what patients truly want.”

What patients have always wanted in virtual care is to be seen, valued and heard, Cawley insisted.

“They don’t want to have to tell their story twice,” he said. “They want convenience, but this shouldn’t be confused with speed. They want care they can trust. They want to know the provider they are speaking with and the organization whom they have entrusted their care truly cares about them and their overall health, not a singular visit.

“They want to know when they need to be seen in person, they can be connected to a care team that can continue their care journey,” he added.


“The company is achieving the mission it set out for when cofounded in 2022: To transform healthcare delivery while building and maintaining connectivity to health systems like ours and the high-quality care we provide,” Chehade said.

“Ovatient has treated more than 1,000 patients in the first month and is on track to exceed its goal of treating more than 12,000 MetroHealth patients in the first year,” he continued. “We are seeing impressive reach, treating patients all across our region, especially in communities that have traditionally had lower access to care or are more heavily impacted by the social drivers of health.”

Not only is Ovatient increasing access for patients, it is delivering high-quality care and great consumer experiences, he added. Its Net Promoter Score among patients treated ranks up with esteemed consumer brands like Starbucks and Warby Parker.

“We are currently in the process of launching Ovatient in South Carolina,” Cawley noted. “We are pleased with MetroHealth’s results and expect the same success here. Our goal is to launch Ovatient in the third quarter and we aim to treat around 25,000 patients in the first 12 months.

“As part of that work, we will have benchmarks for success, including outcomes focused on the quality of the care that is delivered, patient retention within Ovatient and at MUSC Health, and patient experience,” he added.


“We are anxious to launch Ovatient in South Carolina later this year and we are excited by the company’s roadmap as it aligns with our overarching digital transformation and virtual care strategies,” Cawley said. “It includes increasing the array of healthcare services offered, building out even better consumer experiences for patients, expanding on clinical decision-making tools, and growing its provider team.

“We also expect the company to continue to grow, adding new health systems across the country,” he continued. “We believe in Ovatient and its virtual-first care model and think health systems, working together, are the secret sauce when it comes to transforming our nation’s healthcare system for the better.”

MUSC Health has a strong background in providing virtual care. What excites it about the future with Ovatient is that it can continue to deliver best-in-class virtual care for its existing patients but also adopt a new system that will build out new digital health capabilities and help it go deeper into the state to reach new patients, especially patients in underserved communities, he added.

“We believe this partnership complements our existing skills and services and prepares us for future growth,” he said.

Ovatient has big goals, Chehade stated.

“Delivering virtual urgent care and primary care as part of a virtual patient-centered medical home is just the start,” he explained. “Later this year, MetroHealth will add mental health and other specialty care offerings to our virtual care services, powered by Ovatient. And we look forward to the new digital health platform Ovatient is developing that builds on our existing systems and provides new features like health programming tailored to patients’ conditions.

“We will not rest as we continue to deliver better care and better experiences we know will lead to better outcomes for our patients,” he concluded.

Follow Bill’s HIT coverage on LinkedIn: Bill Siwicki

Email him: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Source : Healthcare IT News

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