Virtual Care

Q&A with Ethan Otterlei: Unlocking the potential of asynchronous care

February 6, 2023

Q&A with Ethan Otterlei: Unlocking the potential of asynchronous care

I was recently interviewed by AVIA Marketplace about the biggest challenges in the virtual care industry, how the Fabric solution solves these challenges, and much more. You can find my Q&A below or on AVIA’s resources page.

Fabric aims to improve the virtual care experience for both patients and providers with a flexible platform that automates administrative tasks and reduces clinical work time to an average of 89 seconds per encounter. With both synchronous and asynchronous virtual visit capabilities, Fabric walks patients through virtual triage and automatically pre-populates the platform with relevant data to reduce the need for manual documentation. Care teams can access a wide array of clinical protocols within the platform, and custom workflows are available to meet the needs of a variety of service lines.

Associate Vice President of Partner Sales Ethan Otterlei is a healthcare product expert with 20 years of experience in software-based companies. In his leadership role at Fabric, Ethan cultivates unique partnerships and leverages his deep knowledge of the platform and health system buying practices to facilitate a smooth and efficient sales process. A software engineer by training, Ethan holds a degree in computer science from the University of Minnesota.

Q: Can you tell us about your company and the challenges you are solving within the virtual visit space?

A: We are building healthcare for today’s consumers and tomorrow’s dynamic health organizations by prioritizing the only two people who matter in healthcare: patients and providers. Our approach is to enable traditional care models with an adaptive telemedicine solution that reduces costs, improves outcomes and creates happier patients.

Fabric is the technology at the heart of our solution and is ideal for enterprise health systems and clinics. Our virtual care platform increases patient access while decreasing provider work time by about 99 percent. Fabric leverages asynchronous medical protocols to help providers deliver care in under two minutes in most cases, which allows them to treat more patients while spending more time with the patients who need it most.

Healthcare’s Marketplace is a provider network that onloads and offloads patient demand based on each organization’s unique goals. Healthcare’s Marketplace allows organizations to choose how they utilize network resources, which are available around the clock, 365 days a year. Providers can use the network to:

  • Outsource low acuity visits to the marketplace
  • Leverage internal capacity across their organizations to meet internal and external patient demand
  • Divert to marketplace providers during high demand or after hours

Q: How does your company differentiate from other virtual visit vendors?

A: Our asynchronous solution allows providers to treat more than 400 unique diagnoses in just 89 seconds per visit. That’s twice as fast as other asynchronous platforms, with about three times as many unique diagnoses. With more than four million encounters so far,  provider efficiency with Fabric outpaces the competition. We can deliver these quick diagnoses because of our charting accuracy and clinical adherence that exceeds in-person care or what other virtual visit vendors can provide. Our platform automatically triages patients and escalates them to other modalities native to Fabric (chat, phone, or video) and routes to in-person care whenever necessary–something that other asynchronous platforms don’t support.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes your company has seen around how health systems are approaching virtual visits, given the changes in the landscape over the past couple of years?

A:  Hospitals, health systems, and provider groups across the nation are feeling the strain of staffing shortages and provider burnout. Meanwhile, patient leakage is rising as patients prioritize convenience and access to care over human interaction.

Our asynchronous solution prioritizes the patient and healthcare provider experience to reduce physician burnout while increasing patient satisfaction. Fabric clients see enormous capacity increases–about 60 percent per provider–just by finding small pockets of time during each day. Directing low-acuity cases to asynchronous visits helps physicians maintain RVUs and increase revenue while making it easier to prioritize patients in need of synchronous care, including in-person visits.

Q: What does an ideal client look like? How are health systems best organized for success in standing up virtual visit capabilities?

A:  We don’t just sell technology–we partner with forward-thinking leaders in clinical, healthcare marketing, innovation and transformation who want to step outside the confines of traditional healthcare and find real solutions to real challenges. Physicians and patients consistently appreciate the Fabric user experience, and their enthusiasm makes onboarding much easier, but we also handle patient support through Zendesk and a toll-free support line.

Going live simply requires our partners to make the platform easy for patients to access. Our success and implementation teams offer a standardized launch process that includes working with marketing stakeholders to prioritize digital on-ramps and marketing communications.

An ideal and successful client is one that is looking to fulfill the quintuple aim of healthcare transformation:

  • Reduce patient costs
  • Improve the health of populations
  • Improve the patient experience
  • Achieve health equity
  • Promote physician and staff well-being

Because Fabric integrates with existing EMRs, there are no technological or organizational requirements for success other than a desire to solve the big healthcare challenges within their own systems.

Q: What impact have you seen from your clients who have prioritized virtual visits?

A: With four million encounters under our belt, we’ve conducted numerous case studies and found that Fabric:

  • Reduces physician work time to 89 seconds per visit
  • Automates 99 percent of administrative duties
  • Increases provider capacity by 60% in just 15 minutes a day
  • Reduces low-acuity visit workload so providers can spend more time with higher-need patients

Additionally, we’ve found that about 40 percent of Fabric visits are new visits for our clients, and these new patients are 276 percent more likely to convert to health system patients. Each of these new patients brings in an average of $2,900 of revenue in their first year. To dive deeper into this data, see our new Asynchronous Telemedicine Guide.

Q: What major functional enhancements and/or product investments are you making in the near term to keep up with the evolution of virtual visits?

A: We’re always working to expand our library of asynchronous protocols as a component of our mission to expand health equity and make it easier for all people to access high quality healthcare. One key component of health equity is overcoming language barriers, so we’re excited to announce that the Fabric asynchronous platform is now available in Spanish to support the largest non-English-speaking population in the U.S. Our dynamic content management system provides Spanish translations of all patient-facing text, care plans, and patient education while translating patient inputs into English to allow easy communication with providers.

We also recently launched Healthcare’s Marketplace, one of our latest initiatives to connect patient demand with provider capacity. This revolutionary provider network onloads and offloads patient demand based on each organization’s unique goals, and is available in all 50 states, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

Q: How is your company partnering with clients as reimbursements and use cases shift?

A:  Flexible payment options are a priority for us–we offer a cash pay experience as well as eligibility checks and support for existing revenue cycle management workflows. Fabric also supports special use cases, such as free care as an employee benefit. Even in states that are less supportive of telemedicine reimbursement, the workflows and efficiencies the Fabric platform offers make it financially favorable while creating more time for patients who need higher acuity or in-person care.

Q: What are the biggest opportunities health systems should be thinking about this coming year when it comes to virtual visits?

A:  Asynchronous telemedicine is likely the most valuable and underutilized tool in healthcare, and it should be on your roadmap whether your organization is concerned about losing market share, keeping up with patient demand, tapping unused capacity, reducing physician burnout, expanding access to care, or driving overall revenue. As more organizations realize what we’ve been saying for the last 15 years–that asynchronous telemedicine is key to solving healthcare’s greatest challenges–health systems and clinics should consider whether they want to keep up with the shift toward asynchronous care or risk struggling to catch up later.

Q: How do you see virtual visits evolving in 2023 and beyond?

A: Healthcare staffing shortages are likely to worsen over the next few years, so health systems, provider groups, and urgent care centers must adopt approaches to treat patients more efficiently. Asynchronous telemedicine is the ideal solution, and we expect asynchronous modes of care to become more prevalent. While asynchronous telemedicine isn’t new technology, larger companies like Amazon are finally realizing its potential. It will become increasingly important to adopt innovative virtual and hybrid care strategies. Reluctant organizations will be left behind as their competitors reap the benefits.


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