Orion Health launches new healthcare AI-enabled patient navigation services

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Orion Health this week announced the launch of new digital front door services that are already being used by 15 million people in Ontario, and will soon be more generally available. The tools are designed to streamline care and tasks for overburdened healthcare workers and reduce reliance on emergency departments, the company says.

WHY IT MATTERS

The platform, called Virtuoso, is a multichannel interface where patients have a single point of contact with the health system, according to Orion. It includes a symptom-assessment tool enhanced with artificial intelligence that can help guide platform users to more targeted information and advice on available care.

“This isn’t some dressed-up patient portal,” said Brad Porter, Orion Health’s global chief executive officer, in an announcement Monday. “Virtuoso is a tailored, community-specific, highly accessible platform that integrates complex healthcare systems. It enables average joes like you and me to take control of our own health.”

New Zealand-based Orion Health, which also offers a clinical and medication management portal and health intelligence on its unified health information exchange platform, leverages existing technology, like electronic health records, and integrates it with patient portals and other systems.

The consumer-facing extension of the HIE allows users to view their health information and access an array of available self-service features.

“For the first time, people will be truly active participants in their own healthcare. They’ll have streamlined access to their complete medical history from primary care and specialists, through to hospital interventions,” Porter added.

The company says that because digital front door technology enables health systems to create tailored self-service features for their patient populations, the systems can free up time for clinicians as they broaden access to care.

Dr. Chris Hobson, Orion Health’s chief medical officer, said digital front door technology can ease medical practitioners’ workload by shifting care to patient homes or community clinics and save “frontline healthcare workers for the jobs only people can do,” in a separate statement on the company’s website.

“Access to healthcare hasn’t evolved much in my lifetime,” Hobson said in a statement. “We’ve got the same waiting rooms, the same routine questions and the same paper-based prescriptions.”

“It all depends too much on the nurses’ and doctors’ availability, which is creating unsustainable pressure,” he added. “We’re seeing far too much care occurring in hospitals. So we’ve got to find ways to lighten the load of healthcare workers and reduce physical contact between people and the health system where appropriate.”

Additional healthcare navigation services offered on the new Virtuoso platform include:

  • Accredited health knowledge hub.
  • Verified medical library.
  • Accredited health services directory.
  • Find-a-service.
  • Access to digital health records.
  • Translation service.
  • Website or mobile app.
  • 24/7 online chat and nurse-led call center.
  • Virtual consultations.
  • Health service navigation support.
  • Wellness support and groups.
  • Feedback forms and surveys.
  • Appointment booking and scheduling.
  • Insurance coverage checker.
  • Payment gateways.

THE LARGER TREND

After a major financial downturn in 2019 and restructuring that followed a loss of government contracts dating from the Obama Administration, Andrew Bowater, Orion Health’s global vice president of corporate affairs and marketing, reported that the company pivoted to a start-up operation structure focused on innovation in order to become profitable again.

Before the pandemic, it began working on its DFD offerings and was focused on developing a “tailored, community-specific HIE platform” for state and territory health departments in Australia.

“For the first time, people will be truly active participants in their own healthcare. They’ll have streamlined access to their complete medical history from primary care, allied health professionals through to hospital interventions,” Orion Health founder and former CEO Ian McCrae said in a statement at that time.

ON THE RECORD

“Hospitals globally are overloaded,” James Rice, Orion Health’s executive vice president of North America, said in a statement. “We’ve got the same processes, and care happening in the wrong places. If we want to ease the burden on medical practitioners, then patients need to be treated in locations that make sense for the level of care required for their circumstances.”