Virtua Health improves patient and caregiver experience with 2-way text messaging

Virtua Health, the largest health system in Southern New Jersey, has seen an increase in virtual care appointments and digital communications during the pandemic as patients seek home care. . With this variation in patient interaction, many health systems, including Virtua, have received an astonishing amount of messages to the care team.


Tarun Kapoor, senior vice president and director of digital transformation at Virtua Health, said the increase in patient interaction has added to the difficulty of clinical workflows that are not optimized for clinical practice. volume resolution.

“In other words, our care teams are tasked with responding appropriately to these additional communications, and assisting with face-to-face appointments and daily tasks,” he explains. days in a hospital or medical facility”. “It’s a huge administrative elevator and a challenge to secure it all Patients receive timely communication and an outstanding overall experience.

He continued: “Also, there are limited ways to organize and categorize requirements at a high level. “Patients can text their doctors via email or through the EHR portal, as well as make phone calls. So, in a sense, care teams have the added duty of acting as call center operators. : prioritizing requests, organizing communications, and reporting items as appropriate – all activities that take more time from those that need care and attention on-site.”

Staff know that there needs to be a balance between the vision they have to professionally assist patients in their care journey and receive the timely guidance they need, and their responsibility to Support clinical care teams that are inundated with requests, updates, patient information and more.

“Our ultimate goal is to find a solution that removes the unnecessary barriers that patients face when searching for answers or information, and to do so in a way that empowers the clinical team to provide provide the best care experience possible,” Kapoor said.


Health IT provider Memora Health automates patient symptom triage, guidance, and education through two-way text messaging.

“Their technology platform is provided to communicate with our patients through an accessible SMS messaging platform to assist them after discharge or after an appointment,” explains Kapoor. “This means there’s no need to download a phone app or any fees associated with using Memora’s platform.

“Technology can help make complex things simpler, and thus expand the opportunities for meaningful connection between people.”

Dr. Tarun Kapoor, Virtua Health

He continues: “Patients can get answers quickly when they are at a crossroads in their care journey and receive reminders about medications, appointments and side effects to watch out for. “All of these support a better, easier patient experience.”

In addition, provider clinical care plans have proposed a solution to ease the burden on care teams through AI-powered care management.

“Memora’s intelligent platform will communicate with the patient to ensure they understand the severity of the patient’s concern – this can often be done in a few quick text-based interactions, usually within the first five interactions,” noted Kapoor. “From there, the patients who need the most urgent response are categorized accordingly, so care teams can respond quickly.”


While Virtua Health is still in the early stages of rollout, it is encouraged with what may happen in the future.

“This is a very common scenario that describes how technology will empower patients and reduce administrative responsibilities for care teams,” Kapoor said. “Imagine you’re a 45-year-old about to have your first colonoscopy. You’re bound to have questions about the preparation process and what you’re going to do, even if your previous care team guided you through the steps. .

“You can consult your friends or the internet for guidance, but there’s no way to guarantee the accuracy of that information,” he continued. “You may also be hesitant to contact medical personnel because it’s too late or the question feels petty and you don’t want to be a burden.”

He added: “By messaging the platform, patients have immediate access to a virtual care assistant that can ask questions, offer tailored clinical guidance to help keep them on track before proceeding. perform tricks.

“In this case, patients easily get the information they need and care is not disrupted – giving them time to deal with more urgent or complex issues,” he said. “All parties benefit.”


The proof for any enterprise technology is how it delivers impact for the care teams that use it and for patients seeking care, Kapoor said.

“We aim to improve the overall care experience for both patients and clinicians,” he explains. “We want our patients to report that they feel well informed and cared for at every step. At the same time, we want our care teams to feel more effective in their roles. their role because we took the repetitive administrative tasks off their plates and empowered them to focus more on patient care.”


“Exhaustion is a major concern throughout healthcare,” notes Kapoor. “You read about it all the time, and you’ll see it when you talk to others in the industry.” “We don’t want talented, compassionate people to leave clinical care for early retirement or other jobs.

And we don’t want patients to have to wait longer or get in the way of getting the care they need. “The stakes are high, and so all health systems have to innovate to find solutions.”

Kapoor recommends health systems look at their digital entry points and see how they can enable technology to support the deployment and triage of patient needs.

“Don’t get me wrong, I was a doctor before entering the field of digital transformation,” he concluded. “I insist that there is nothing more rewarding than the direct interaction between caregiver and patient. But technology can help make complex things simpler and thus broaden opportunities for engagement. meaningful connection between people.”

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Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.


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