This fall, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) operationalized its Coast Guard Care Anywhere initiative with the deployment of an enterprise virtual healthcare platform, ViiMed. The growing COVID-19 pandemic made a robust virtual health platform an urgent necessity.
“The health and safety of our Coast Guard service members is a top priority,” the USCG said in a statement. “Coast Guard Care Anywhere provides a critical link between our service members and medical professionals during a time when in-person visits may not be possible. Coast Guard Care Anywhere gives the service one more tool to ensure we’re doing everything we can to promote the health, readiness, and resiliency of our Coast Guard men and women.”
A primary goal of any virtual health initiative is to improve access to care. “USCG personnel and dependents, as well as their healthcare providers, are dispersed widely across the country. They needed a platform that has the ability to address these geographical challenges. ViiMed provides the ability to triage patients so they can be routed to the most appropriate provider, regardless of physical location,” said Brion Bennett, Chief Growth Officer at ViiMed, a Washington, D.C.-based small business operating in the virtual care space since 2013.
Under prime contractor MicroHealth, ViiMed and the USCG stood up the platform with a conditional Authority to Operate (ATO) less than 10 days after the contract was awarded on Sept. 18. The first set of USCG healthcare providers were enrolled on Oct. 6.
“The Coast Guard needed and required us to be up and running – fast,” said Phil Newman, CEO and Chief Product Officer of ViiMed. “Thanks to the combination of the great work between our teams, the ViiMed platform’s configuration layer, and its lightweight serverless architecture within AWS GovCloud, we were able to accomplish the USCG’s objective.”
Quick deployment was enabled by ViiMed’s unique workflow configuration layer and approach. Unlike point solutions that address care for a specific condition, the ViiMed platform can address any healthcare use case, including musculoskeletal health, chronic disease management and prevention, behavioral health, and, in the USCG’s case, enterprise-wide telehealth.
“If you can envision a workflow for virtual care, you can configure it on the platform,” Newman said.
Speed and security are also enabled by ViiMed’s serverless architecture within AWS GovCloud. ViiMed operationalized its software entirely on AWS GovCloud, which manages and secures the infrastructure supporting the ViiMed platform, and the Coast Guard inherits all of the security controls of AWS GovCloud. Security controls are standardized across the application stack.
“We want the most scalable and secure ecosystem available, and AWS serverless architecture and AWS GovCloud help us achieve that,” Newman said. “AWS takes on the responsibility for the security of the infrastructure, so we can focus on operating and evolving our software and our platform. Our goal is to futureproof our clients by staying far ahead of the rapidly progressing virtual care market – and ultimately help their patients achieve better health outcomes.”
More than 200 USCG healthcare providers are currently enrolled on the ViiMed platform, which was deployed remotely due to COVID-19 precautions. To ensure successful adoption when on-site training wasn’t possible, ViiMed developed a training inside of the platform. Providers learn how the platform works as they navigate their virtual care workflow. This reinvented rollout helps patients and providers maximize use of the platform capabilities, which include scheduling, video-based appointments, screen sharing, and secure messaging. In cases where the patient’s need is urgent, a provider can initiate an appointment immediately.
The USCG took a modern approach to the challenge of providing secure, robust virtual healthcare, Newman observed.
“Many organizations believe they need to build custom solutions, which limit their ability to deploy and innovate rapidly,” he noted. “With a cloud-based platform and inherited security controls, the USCG was able to deploy much more quickly than we typically see in industry. In fact, we believe the Federal government is setting the standard for the next generation of virtual care. We’re honored that we have the opportunity to assist our women and men of the Coast Guard, and we will work incredibly hard to continuously improve their experience.”