The Sit-down: 5 Questions with Dr. H

We sat down with out Medical Director Dr. Helmuth and asked him some of the most frequently asked questions of our new hires. Check out the news of his hire here!

Dr. Paul Helmuth, Medical Director TimeDoc HealthQ: You joined the TimeDoc Health team full-time this year. Why now?

A: As with many people in healthcare, I was motivated to make a career change during the pandemic. It was amazing to see how we changed to 100% virtual care in an instant. So, despite the stress and scramble to establish safe, efficient models of virtual care, we all observed something truly transformative in the healthcare industry with a radical realignment of the way we access and deliver services. 

I was initially drawn to the possibility of working with TimeDoc because of my experience in our accountable care organization deploying onsite, embedded care managers for our patients who were in Medicare as well as other healthcare programs. I have seen firsthand the benefits to me, as a provider, and to our patients when they are able to develop trusting relationships with the care management team. 

As we slowly move from fee-for-service models of care to value-based payments, organizations need to build up their population health infrastructure with not only technology solutions, but with care teams who can maintain meaningful connections with patients between office visits. Dramatic expansion of care management services could be the backbone of efficient team-based models of care delivery, especially if the workforce is empowered with the relevant data to improve patient outcomes and experience of care. 

Although I had initially started my role at TimeDoc in a part-time capacity, it became clear that with the planned near-term enhancements to the software and clinical services including expansion into remote monitoring and development of robust quality programs, that the position needs to be full-time. I am so excited about the rapid changes in our software and services from just the short time I’ve been here!

Q: What about TimeDoc Health’s place in the market excites you about the future of healthcare?

A: I am old enough to have been trained in the longstanding care delivery model that relies on having each patient make one to four in-person visits annually to an office for 15-minute appointments. The single provider assumes responsibility for a patient’s holistic care and bases treatment decisions on limited data from in-office vital signs and brief interviews. Clearly, we cannot manage large populations efficiently without transforming our care models. 

I’m excited about TimeDoc Health’s position in the market because we are creating the infrastructure for highly efficient, team-based delivery of health care. Modern care teams need more than a strategy for between-visit patient engagement. They also need timely access to relevant data to improve the quality of patient care.

Our care managers are screening patients with validated questionnaires as well as supporting the use of remote monitoring devices for acquiring valuable biometric data so that providers have access to the complete picture of health. Moreover, our staff are helping coordinate care for patients to overcome barriers including transportation, food insecurity, and other social determinants of health. Our staff’s care management efforts decrease friction in the healthcare system for our patients far beyond what technology can accomplish alone.

Our shared commitment to providing not only software as a service, but
actual clinical service for improving the patient experience and health outcomes is what has me most excited about our future as a company.

Q: How has remote monitoring evolved, from a technology perspective, to make it a necessity for healthcare providers today?

A: One exciting aspect of monitoring technology evolution is the increased availability of cellular enabled devices. For example, a patient can simply take a blood pressure cuff out of the box and start checking his or her readings without using a smartphone, WiFi, or bluetooth connection. The data is automatically transmitted via cellular signals. This important innovation has helped expand the use of remote monitoring to groups of patients who may not have access to new technology.

From the provider perspective, chronic disease management standards of care include the expectations for patient self-management activities. In diabetes care, we expect patients to check their own blood sugars, keep a log of results, adjust their medications if needed, and report changes in trends. However, adherence to these self-management programs is low because patients receive little real-time reinforcement or feedback for their monitoring efforts.

Improving health outcomes requires that patients remain engaged in monitoring and self-management of their medical conditions, and remote monitoring technology coupled with high-touch patient communication is a proven strategy for providers and the patients they serve.

Q: What are some of the first initiatives you will undertake in this new role?

A: I am very excited about a few initiatives that we have underway. First, we are planning to add secure, two-way texting to augment our communication and patient engagement program. Although we expect that not all patients will have the technology or interest in communicating with us via text message, many will appreciate the convenience. Device adherence is a major challenge across the remote monitoring industry, and we are optimistic that adding text reminders will help us keep patients engaged. 

Additionally, we have some great upgrades to our hypertension disease management software. We see a real opportunity to add value for patients who receive chronic care management as well as remote monitoring services. The new module integrates blood pressure readings with prompts for care managers to engage patients in discussions about medication adherence, health risk behaviors, and patient goals. This programmatic strategy, that includes intuitive technology plus high-value clinical services, exemplifies exactly the direction I’d love to see us continue to pursue.

Q: Outside of work, what are some of the hobbies or passion projects you are working on?

A: My husband often notes that I have way too many extracurricular activities. I regularly exercise in some group fitness classes as well as with a Master’s swim team. I also sing in a number of choral groups when COVID-19 isn’t keeping us from gathering for rehearsals and concerts. I’m hoping to get back to all these group activities in 2022!

Additionally, over the past year, my husband and I have taken a few trips as “digital nomads” since we can both work remotely from anywhere. Last fall for example, we were in Edinburgh, Scotland for six weeks, which was an amazing experience! We’re looking forward to more travel as well. 

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