5 transformative impacts of virtual care and the explosion of telehealth

Virtual doctor visits had already been growing in popularity over the last few years. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing about an explosion in the use of telehealth services as people seek to receive more personalized and convenient healthcare. Recognizing the benefits of virtual care, providers are now looking for new ways to deliver that support — especially as many consumers and employers would like to see the virtual option stick around.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates that telehealth use in April 2020 was 78 times higher than in February 2020. Further, customer attitudes toward meeting a doctor through a camera lens have changed significantly: About 40% of consumers surveyed said they will keep using telehealth services in the future. Forward-looking companies are embracing virtual care benefits for their employees.

Transform your group health plan with virtual primary care

Still, seeing a doctor through a video chat alone isn’t enough for successful, ongoing healthcare management. Virtual care — particularly, virtual primary care — needs to provide a meaningful connection and access to the whole-person health resources employees need, ensuring they receive the right care at the right time in the right setting. Here are some of the top benefits of virtual care.

1. Convenience

A visit to the doctor’s office can feel inconvenient or even push people to avoid focusing on their health, especially when they try to balance making an appointment, taking time off work, travel time, and sitting in waiting rooms. According to Massachusetts General Hospital, however, 79% of patients said that finding a convenient time for a follow-up virtual video visit was easier than for a traditional office visit.

2. Controlling costs

Many organizations already partner with their insurance carriers to offer virtual care services. Providing employees with an intelligent solution that lets them check symptoms and chat with a doctor from anywhere helps nudge employees to higher-quality, lower-cost services or providers. An ongoing focus on total person care can reduce overall health risk and increase plan value for employers and employees alike.

3. Chronic disease management

The benefits of virtual care go beyond doctor’s visits and can be seen in chronic disease management. Providing personalized guidance with a digital solution that integrates lifestyle recommendations along with prescription refills, symptom checkers, and 24/7 virtual doctor’s visits can help keep patients on top of chronic diseases. Combining a digital healthcare service with company wellness challenges or other health and wellbeing initiatives can promote better health outcomes and real-time connections for your employees.

4. Navigating the healthcare system

Navigating healthcare by finding the right providers, managing medications, and making appointments is a challenge for most people. A quality virtual care offering guides people through the process of finding the right providers, meeting with them, and keeping track of follow-up recommendations. Anthem offers Sydney Health, an app that helps employees navigate all aspects of their personal care journey, from determining if they need care to managing a diagnosis.

5. Benefit integration

A survey by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found that 84% of employers who offer virtual care to employees did so through their health insurance carrier. And for good reason: Having a digital care solution that integrates with your organization’s benefits holistically helps employees make the most of their offerings. They can easily see claims or get a summary of their benefits right from the app.

Increase value by providing virtual care to your employees

According to The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the net cost savings of a telemedicine visit ranges from $19-$121 per visit. And in the aforementioned Willis Towers Watson survey, more than half of respondents said they believe telemedicine will be important to their organization’s healthcare activities after the pandemic. But the user experience of any digital health offering can make or break employee adoption.

Anthem takes an innovative, data-driven, and digital-focused approach to help members access care. For example, Anthem’s virtual primary care offering and Sydney Health app both help to increase value and improve outcomes by connecting members with doctors and information about their benefits. This integrated approach is advancing the reach and impact of care teams on patients’ lives through the use of interactive tools that strengthen the collaboration between physical and virtual care.

The past year has seen tremendous growth and increased adoption of virtual care solutions by individuals and doctors. Continuing this digital-first trend has the potential to meet your employees where they are in their health journeys, promoting better overall health and saving your company both time and money.

X
COVID-19 Resources: Managing Your Business During a Crisis