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IMPACT, the Virtual-First Medical Practice Collaboration

IMPACT announces new definition of virtual first care at ATA 2021 

The collaborative dedicated to expanding access to high-quality, evidence-based virtual care provides needed clarity to emerging sector 

Boston, Mass., June 15, 2021 – As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, members of IMPACT, an industry coalition led by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), today announced a unifying definition for virtual first care (V1C), and related resources at ATA 2021. Part of the assets include vignettes from six virtual first care providers illustrating the promise of virtual first care in practice across emergency care, respiratory medicine, cardiac care, sleep medicine.

In recent months, leading health insurance companies have launched their own virtual first plans and extended in-network coverage to virtual first mental health providers. Yet, this emerging sector promising reimagined healthcare delivery experience has lacked a clear definition – until now. 

“Confusion about how virtual first care differs from traditional telehealth, in addition to the questionable quality of some digital health apps, has undermined trust in this novel approach to healthcare,” said DiMe Executive Director Jennifer Goldsack. “But virtual first care is healthcare; it adheres to all applicable laws and standards of care, making it worthy of our trust. IMPACT’s proposed definition lays the much-needed foundation for a clear and unified path forward and will unlock numerous benefits across the digital health field.” 

Virtual first care also offers enormous promise for improved clinical and health economic outcomes, enhanced access, and better overall patient experience because it:

  • Can be initiated anywhere at any time, 
  • Allows for the intentional selection of care setting based on each individual’s clinical needs and preferences, and 
  • Is a complete solution for every patient taking the necessary next steps in their health journey.

This is the first deliverable from the IMPACT initiative, whose members include representatives from digital-health start-ups, health-insurance companies, big tech, investors, and trade associations. They are currently collaborating on a number of other projects including creating a model for contracting between payers and virtual-first providers, and developing frameworks of success for quality, outcomes, and value assessment for virtual-first care.

DiMe Chief Operating Officer Claire Meunier is the executive lead for the IMPACT initiative and notes the importance of a clear definition of virtual first care as foundational for these initiatives and the sector itself.

“It’s impossible to optimize a reimbursement model for virtual first care, for example, without first being able to define it,” says Meunier. “Our V1C definition goes beyond a simple statement to highlight the key characteristics and components of successful virtual fist care solutions. It provides a common language to power collaboration between providers, payers, patients, and policymakers to optimize virtual first care and improve lives.”

“Virtual first care is digital health in practice,” added IMPACT Co-Founder Don Jones. “IMPACT uniquely convenes organizations from across the ecosystem that view virtual first care as their primary mission. Members of IMPACT are already demonstrating patient and provider satisfaction, as well as pathways to cost savings and improved outcomes. With a clear definition for the field, we have paved the way for more fit-for-purpose reimbursement models and opportunities to demonstrate the value of virtual first in practice.”

“This year marks ATA’s 25th annual conference and never before have we chronicled such progress, innovation and disruption as we have this year. Yet, there is much more work to be done, on many fronts. Telehealth has finally made it into our healthcare lexicon, but we are just starting to better understand the most effective applications of virtual care technologies,” said ATA CEO Ann Mond Johnson. “As we move towards a two-channel care delivery system, including in-person and virtual care, the next phase of evolution will be to add virtual first care, to allow for the home delivery of quality care throughout an individual’s health journey.”

About IMPACT: Hosted by the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), IMPACT is the pre-competitive collaboration of leading digital health companies, investors, payers, patient experts, and consultants dedicated to supporting virtual-first medical organizations and their commitment to patient-centric care. Learn more at impact.dimesociety.org.

Media Contact

Lauren Bolles

Lauren@dimesociety.org  


US’ largest telehealth group launches new ‘Virtual-First’ healthcare initiative

Co-created by the Digital Medicine Society, ‘IMPACT’ aims to cultivate an ecosystem of organizations that view virtual care as their primary mission

Boston, MA, Jan 13, 2021 – In the midst of a global pandemic that has forced millions of healthcare professionals to become increasingly virtual, a new initiative for virtual healthcare is being launched today by the American Telemedicine Association and the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe).

The “IMPACT” initiative aims to go beyond conventional telemedicine efforts that are layered on top of existing healthcare organizations, and to instead develop solutions that its organizers call “virtual-first.”

IMPACT founding members include a wide range of digital-health start-ups, health-insurance companies, investors, and trade associations.

The initiative will also include research participation from Rock Health, a seed fund whose other partners include GE, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.

DiMe executive director Jen Goldsack says that most services that we think of as telehealth have been developed to mirror traditional practice, using communications technologies to deliver an experience that aims to simulate an in-clinic visit.

“In contrast, virtual-first practices have staff and clinical workflows that are based exclusively on caring for patients remotely, and that don’t have to be reverse-engineered into existing workflows,” says Goldsack. “Virtual-first practices use technologies for patients to monitor their health at home, as well as offer care teams that might look a little different. They often include and coordinate needed diagnostics, therapeutics, remote patient monitoring, mental health professional consultations, coaching, nutrition consultation, together with physician services, all delivered outside of traditional healthcare facilities.”

Goldsack says that initial priorities include: 

  • developing model payer contracts for virtual-first organizations
  • conducting investor and innovator benchmarking surveys
  • addressing misconceptions that virtual care is “second-class medicine”
  •  

“Virtual-first practices experience many of the same challenges faced by all delivery systems and clinicians that practice telehealth, including difficulty securing reimbursement and outdated regulatory and licensing models,” added Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA. “They also have lacked a supportive ecosystem to help them thrive. That is, until now.”

IMPACT stands for “VIrtual-first Medical PrActice CollaboraTion.” Its steering committee includes representatives from the founding members as well as invited experts from across the field of digital medicine. 

Chair Donald Jones, a recognized leader in technology enabled health services and virtual clinic business models, says that the committee will discuss best practices and develop a shared vision and strategy for maximizing the impact of virtual-first care, and bringing healthcare payers into the fold.

“Virtual-first medical providers must offer complete turnkey healthcare solutions rather than the usual approach where patients are shuttled off from one siloed specialist to another only then to be sent to a diagnostic,” Jones says. “IMPACT will support this new subfield, convening representatives from across the ecosystem necessary to help virtual-first practices thrive.”

Learn more about IMPACT.

The full list of founding members for the initiative include: 

  • Abridge
  • Aspen Rx Health
  • Axene Health Partners
  • Bind Benefits
  • Digital Therapeutics Alliance
  • Dreem
  • Elektra Labs
  • Freespira
  • Ginger
  • Guidewell Health
  • Independa
  • Omada Health
  • Oshi Health
  • Papa
  • Programma Health
  • Remedy
  • Takeda Digital Ventures
  • Tele911
  • TripleTree
  • Validic
  • Visana Health
  • KOLs, including patient experts
  •  

About IMPACT: Hosted by the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), IMPACT is a pre-competitive collaboration of leading digital health companies, investors, payers, and consultants dedicated to supporting virtual-first medical organizations and their commitment to patient-centric care.

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