While the maturity model may seem very formal and only applicable to large organizations, it actually is very scalable. It can be applied to single-speciality physician clinics, urgent care centers or behavioral health providers as well as rural and regional health systems or academic medical centers.
For the purpose of this discussion we’re describing the maturity levels from the perspective of a health system with designated leadership and support teams.
The 7 Levels of Telehealth Maturity
Level 0 — Chaotic: At this level telehealth services are launched ad hoc and at times reactionary without much thought given as to the financial or clinical viability of the service. In larger organizations there is no coordination between the different telehealth services.
Level 1 — Emerging: Eventually “word gets out” that different physicians or teams are using telehealth. Leadership is aware at some level and someone in IT is providing some technical support. Financial sustainability is typically expected or anticipated but seldom measured.
Level 2 — Coordinated: This level is characterized by coordination and communication between the different telehealth services. Leadership is typically supportive telehealth, but does not provide designated resources for support. Success is still mostly a function of few individuals’ passion for making telehealth happen.
Level 3 — Supported: At this level, a central support team (oftentimes comprising part-time assigned resources) is established with support by leadership. There is operational and technical support as well as formal support for the piloting and launch of new services. At this level attention is also paid to reimbursement and regulatory compliance.
The “Supported” maturity level is the one that in the wake of the Covid-19 health crisis most health systems are striving toward. The next three maturity levels literally take telehealth “to the next level”, in the sense of how telehealth is being regarded by administrative and by clinical leadership and in turn by the whole organization.
Level 4 — Integrated: Once a centralized support team with best practices can manage the proper launch of new services, telehealth can quickly spread across all specialties and all modalities – whether to offer patients access to specialty care or integrating remote patient monitoring services. From a patient’s perspective, receiving care online across a spectrum of services is seamless. Finally, clinical data generated during telehealth visits or remotely collected is available for clinical decision making in the patient’s medical record.
Level 5 — Strategic: At the strategic level, organizations are fully leveraging telehealth by proactively using the launch of new telehealth services and the expansion of existing services to drive the fulfillment of their overall organizational strategic objectives. Engaging with patients at a distance and in person is the organization’s “new normal”.
Level 6 — Transformative: At the top maturity level, healthcare organizations are redefining care delivery by creating innovative care delivery models including virtual hospitals. Where necessary, transformative organizations design and develop their own telehealth solutions to meet their innovative needs. The organization is on a continuous pursuit of constantly reviewing and improving its telehealth capabilities and moving towards enabling “Empowered Wellness” for its patients by truly delivering connected care.
Using the Model
To use the model, as with any road map, you first need to assess where the organization is at, so you know where to go from here. Once an assessment of “you are here” is made, you can identify the gaps to get all aspects of one maturity level implemented.
For example we are currently working with one health system that has had most elements of the “2-Coordinated” level in place and some elements of the “3-Supported” level. Our goal in working with the organization is to fill in the missing elements (such as a designated technical support) so we can take their telehealth program to Level 4, Integrated.
Over the next few weeks I will be publishing additional articles on the Telehealth Program Maturity Model with more specifics particularly on the core “milestone” levels 3 and 4.
Where would you put your organization’s maturity level? When do you think you’ll reach level 4 or level 5?