Polycom and IBM bring reactive video visits to home health care

By Jonah Comstock
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Polycom Polycom's RealPresence CloudAxis suite.

Video conferencing provider Polycom has partnered with IBM to integrate its RealPresence CloudAxis web-based video conferencing product into IBM's Care Manager software, allowing providers and caregivers who use the software to immediately initiate a video consultation with a patient.

Care Manager is part of IBM's Patient Care and Insights platform, a predictive analytics engine that helps providers gain insight into what patients might be at risk for based on data profiles of other similar patients.

"Care Manager is the tool that the analytics engine feeds information into," Ron Emerson, Director of Global Healthcare for Polycom told MobiHealthNews. "So you have analytics, it pops info up, it flags the Care Manager and it says 'based on this you need to address this with this patient'."

The software can be used to coordinate care teams of doctors, nurses, and family members as well. With the Polycom integration, doctors on the system will be able to respond to that data by scheduling video visits with a patient, either immediately or at the patient's convenience. The provider can click a button on Care Manager to trigger a video call the patient can take from their desktop, mobile device, or forward to their telephone.

Emerson said the integration will support a number of use cases. While providers can use it to do one-on-one calls with a patient, it also supports group calls to promote better care coordination between care teams.

"You can also use the video as part of remote monitoring technology," he said, explaining that irregular results from remote monitoring can alert the doctor via care manager and the doctor can respond with a video call. "You have this data but how do you do something with it? How do we react quickly to that? We're getting a lot of excitement about this. People just see it as a very natural progression of where this needs to go. We talk about the patient centered medical home, we talk about all of these cool things, but organizations are still struggling with care coordination in the realities of geography in everyday life."

Emerson said the system is encrypted, which makes the calls safe under HIPAA. He said IBM is starting out marketing the system to accountable care organizations and early technology adopters in the US, but is also selling the system globally.

Video visits have been big in the news lately, becoming more and more widely available. American Well went direct-to-consumer with its telemedicine offering and also partnered with CampusMD to bring it to select colleges. Before that, Tacoma, Washington-based Franciscan Hospital Systems partnered with Carena to bring telemedicine to anyone in its coverage area.