The use of video visits and digital communication in the healthcare field is nothing new, but recent collaborations between healthcare powerhouses may mark a new era in telehealth.

A Powerful Partnership

The Cleveland Clinic has recently announced that patients visiting CVS MinuteClinics in Ohio will have access to video and mobile visits online, according to mobihealth news.

This development is made possible through a partnership between CVS and the Cleveland Clinic, with technology powered by American Well’s video visits offering. Although the three companies have previously partnered together in separate deals, this new relationship is perhaps best understood from the perspective of the Cleveland Clinic, which has been making deliberate efforts to push the boundaries of care delivery. According to Dr. Peter Rasmussen, Cleveland Clinical Medical Director of Distance Health, “Our long-term view of telehealth is that it’s not only a new, welcome service that we can offer our existing patients, but it’s a way for Cleveland Clinic to extend our reach and serve more people who need help. We believe that it is important to remove barriers to great care like time, travel and distance, and we’re making that possible through this partnership in Ohio.”

The Cleveland Clinic announced its initial partnership with American Well in November of 2015, launching the American Well-powered app, Cleveland Clinic Express Care, which gives patients around-the-clock access to urgent care medical professionals. Cleveland Clinic Wellness will also be partnering with health kiosk company Pursuant Health, opening up their access in the workplace wellness space.

In addition to increasing the profile of the companies involved, partnerships like these seek to fill the gaps in quality healthcare. The U.S. is currently facing a shortage in primary care physicians, as well as in specialties including dermatology, neurology and mental health. Video visits and digital communication — key components of telemedicine — offer the hope of using technology to meet the growing demands of healthcare consumers.

More Activity in Telehealth

These advances in telehealth aren’t driven solely by Cleveland Clinic. CVS, a few months before this most recent partnership, announced that it will be working with American Well, Doctor On Demand and Teladoc in an effort to push the boundaries of its telehealth offerings.

Additionally, Teladoc reported that it had completed 240,000 telemedicine visits during the first quarter of 2016, which marks a 61 percent increase from the 149,000 visits during the same period last year.

The Future of Home Health

With such large organizations driving the telehealth movement, it can be easy to miss one of telehealth’s most valuable benefits — in-home care and visits. While companies like CVS and Cleveland Clinic rely on kiosks, more personal telehealth solutions will rely on tablets, wearables and smartphones to connect with patients in their homes.

This connection is about much more than convenience. Shifting healthcare from the clinical environment to the home helps facilitate a much more proactive orientation to personal health — one that saves money and keeps patients healthier for greater portions of their lives.

Learn more about the benefits of home healthcare here, including how tablets helped capture previously inaccessible patient data.