“Updox is a great partner for us. We needed a novel approach and they came up with unique solutions that fit our needs“
Great Lakes Physicians Organization (GLPO) is a network of approximately 275 physicians located in Central Michigan that works to coordinate patient care across various settings for the population it serves. Care teams within GLPO work with patients to establish and achieve personal health goals, and they have demonstrated great success in doing so over the years. Great Lakes Physicians Organization is present in 13 counties in Central Michigan and serves more than 150,000 patients.
When COVID struck, imparting a dramatic impact on healthcare providers across the nation, GLPO worked to ensure a common telehealth service across their membership, to ensure continuity of care and to maintain patient access.
“Our guiding rules were finding a solution that could be easily deployed across our system and was also simple for patients to use,” says Shay Raleigh, executive director, Great Lakes Physician Organization. “We looked at several options. Updox offered us something that could be implemented quickly with the least burden to our healthcare providers and their patients.”
“In addition to HIPAA compliance, what set Updox apart for us was there was nothing to download or set up. Patients didn’t need a portal or username. They just clicked a link. It was so easy to use and that made getting physicians on board with it better as well,” says Shay. “We’ve had overwhelmingly positive reviews from our providers and patients about Updox. Since March 25, we’ve done almost 17,000 telehealth visits. It’s worked out incredibly well.”
Once the team went with Updox, they rolled it out to their customers using a “train the trainer” technique. Updox staff trained GLPO’s IT team and they cascaded training to over 40 of their member practices.
“Updox is a great partner for us. Their flexibility and expertise were the reasons it was so successful for our organization. We needed a novel approach and they came up with unique solutions that fit our needs,” says Shay. “Updox allowed us to move quickly. We selected a vendor on a Sunday, signed a contract on Monday and started training on Tuesday. That’s what a great partnership does.”
Prior to the pandemic, Great Lakes had considered telehealth but hadn’t implemented it yet. “It was on the backburner for us. Suddenly, it became a necessity. Patients couldn’t come to the office or were scared to do so. Due to stay-at-home orders and restrictions on elective services, telehealth offered us a way to reach patients safely. Our physicians could see them, provide care, and alleviate some of their fears. It was really impactful,” says Shay.
Great Lakes has consistently been ranked as a statewide leader for clinical quality care, so maintaining that level of quality was vital for the organization. “Telehealth allowed us to get to patients who needed routine or preventative services so that they didn’t end up requiring an inpatient visit or emergency room trip,” says Shay. “It’s not farfetched to say that telehealth has been a lifesaver. Practices lost a revenue stream when their doors had to close but patients still had needs. Telehealth gave our physicians the opportunity to care for patients, keep staff employed, and maintain their bottom lines.”
According to Shay, telehealth will continue as a service option for Great Lakes Physicians Organization. “The vast majority of our member practices intend to continue with telehealth. The proof is there. They see it becoming a more integral part of healthcare moving forward. The loosening of rules surrounding reimbursements and expansion of services allowed them to get paid with parity. That was essential. Through this we’ve learned that getting started was easier than we imagined, and patients are much more willing to use telehealth than we first thought.”