While the total impact on healthcare from COVID-19 will not be determined for some time, one of the more poignant results has been the wide-spread deployment of telehealth. Over the last 6-months, healthcare organizations have had to quickly deploy a telehealth platform and pivot their patient encounters to that technology. While the number of telehealth visits has declined roughly 60% since the peak in early April, organizations continue to encourage telehealth visits to help decrease the risk of transmitting the virus to healthcare employees or other patients within the practice.
On September 22, Microsoft announced the release of the Microsoft Teams Connector, which will allow clinicians and patients to launch a virtual patient visit or consult with another provider in Teams directly from their EHR system. Microsoft Teams is HIPAA compliant and has HITECH certification, and the Teams Connector will be accessed through the Microsoft 365 cloud. When integrated into an organization's EHR, the chat, video, and voice communication between a provider and a patient will work within their EHR system. Using the Microsoft Teams EHR connector, a clinician can schedule patient visits and launch telehealth sessions from their current workflow. Teams also uses EHR alerts to inform users of scheduled meetings.
With the Teams Connector release, Microsoft also announced that Epic will be the first EHR vendor to integrate this functionality. Teams will be made available on the Epic App Orchard this year. Additionally, Microsoft anticipates adding similar functionality with other EHR systems very soon.
The integration of Teams into EHR systems is part of the broader Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which will be generally available on October 30, 2020. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, recently stated, "Our new Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is helping providers schedule, manage, and conduct virtual visits using Teams and engage with patients using Dynamics 365. In healthcare, there were more than 46 million Teams meetings this past month."
The ability to leverage Microsoft Teams to meet the healthcare industry's unique needs will make virtual care easier for both the provider and the patient. Being able to directly integrate the virtual visit in the EHR system in a single workflow is a big step forward.
To learn more about the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, click here.