Cone Health

Virtual Care Strategy Planning and Implementation


CONE HEALTH is a regional health system in Greensboro, North Carolina, with 6 hospitals and 1,300 employed physicians serving across 95 practice sites.

the challenge

Cone needed a comprehensive digital and telehealth strategy to meet patient expectations for more innovative care and compete with nearby providers who had already developed advanced care delivery systems. Cone engaged ECG to assist in the business planning and implementation of an enterprise-wide digital health strategy.

the process

To oversee the project, ECG established a centralized governance structure at Cone involving a steering committee and four functional work groups. Primary objectives included:

  • Create a comprehensive digital strategy to improve access and patient experience.
  • Rapidly design and implement pilot projects to secure quick wins.
  • Develop a long-term strategy to build more advanced digital and telehealth offerings.

ECG assessed Cone’s current-state IT and operational capabilities, identifying entry points the system could use to deploy its program within 90 days of leadership’s approval of a telehealth roadmap. To support a speedy and cost-effective launch, ECG’s team developed a “build or buy” decision framework, which Cone used to select two pilot projects: an asynchronous e-visit offering through its existing Epic MyChart platform and a live video-visit offering through a third-party vendor.

Upon developing the roadmap, several key operational and technical decisions were required to initiate the pilots. ECG established an enterprise-wide, centralized telehealth governance structure, and with input from clinical, operational, technical, revenue cycle, and marketing leaders from throughout the organization, created detailed work plans for the e-visit pilot program and guided the selection and implementation of the live video-visit platform.

the outcome

Cone launched its pilot e-visit program in October 2015 and its urgent care live video-visit program in May 2016. Both programs used automated patient surveys and KPIs to track progress and develop areas for improvement. Metrics included:

Cone used the success of its initial pilot programs to encourage rapid adoption of the organization’s telehealth offerings and build brand recognition for convenient and exceptional care. The success of the pilot programs served as a foundation to expand the offerings and initiate planning for advanced telehealth modalities that included remote patient monitoring, scheduled specialist visits, and provider-to-provider consultations. In addition, ECG supported the planning and deployment of a digital population health management and wellness platform that enabled Cone to enhance the patient experience, improve outcomes, and provide cost-effective care. ECG’s efforts for Cone led to the deployment of a sustainable virtual health strategy, with the ultimate goal of marketing and commercializing this service line.

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