Digital innovation is a beautiful thing, but it can also lead to more problems than solutions — especially when technologies don’t improve health outcomes.

When care isn’t focused on the patient, the results can have a negative impact on patients’ health and care experience. That’s why it’s vitally important to integrate new technologies thoughtfully rather than accumulating features or services that don’t improve health or your bottom line.


Telehealth takes center stage

The pandemic showed the nation that access to a care team is more crucial than ever before, especially when in-person visits are limited or out of the question. Telehealth answered this timely need by allowing providers, health coaches, and behavioral health clinicians to deliver care wherever it was most convenient for patients.

Patients responded enthusiastically. During the first few months of the pandemic, telehealth accounted for nearly 24% of all care-related interactions, compared to just 0.03% from one year prior.  It’s clear this technology has become an essential part of healthcare delivery — and that’s unlikely to change.  Virtual care is projected to grow at a compound growth rate of 38.2% through 2025.

It makes sense. Even as vaccines become more commonplace and the nation braces for potential COVID variants, telehealth presents solutions for many scenarios beyond safety and social distancing guidelines, including:

  • The busy remote worker who wants to play a more active role in their health by keeping up on routine or preventive appointments and screenings
  • The active at-home parent who struggles to find time for self-care — including check-ins on their mental health, physical well-being, and lifestyle goals. 
  • The person with a disability or health condition that makes it challenging to navigate to and from care centers.

It’s no wonder Deloitte sees telehealth as a cornerstone of more equitable access to care in the near future. It’s a great example of care-based innovations stepping up to meet the demands of modern times. But other innovative solutions are available — and these can either help or hinder your needs. 


How to evaluate new tech

Whether you’re a payer or an organization, it’s smart to define your goals and values before you leverage digital technology and innovation to support them. Technology can't stand on its own without understanding patients — and to understand the patient, you have to know the patient.

Any leading telehealth solution should:

  • Provide routine and preventive primary care appointments
  • Empower greater ownership of patient health outcomes through health coaching appointments
  • Connect patients with behavioral health clinicians to address everything from stress problems to addictive disorders
  • Close gaps in care
  • Deliver outreach to unengaged members 
  • Provide chronic care management
  • Offer medication support

Ask yourself these questions before considering technology driven benefit packages:

Do the innovations truly give patients:

  • Improved convenience?
  • Better clinical outcomes?
  • Greater efficiencies in care coordination?

Test each answer: Will innovations help things improve “on paper” or will the integration of new technologies lead to real-world benefits? Adding significant convenience (like next-day access and an online portal) can still miss the right outcomes.  

When innovations support member connections, engagement, and interaction, there's real potential for long-lasting benefits.

Innovations for patients

At Vera, we measure innovation solutions by how they’ll ultimately impact payers, employers, patients, and care teams. As a service provided with our advanced primary care model, virtual care merges people and processes with technology to improve meaningful engagement, care navigation, and patient satisfaction.

In addition to telehealth, we’re also expanding our remote monitoring, connecting members to their organization’s digital platforms, offering online appointment scheduling, and providing two-way, real-time health insights. These innovative solutions aren’t about technology; they’re about connecting people to the care they need so that health outcomes improve in significant fashion. 

Learn more about how essential telehealth is becoming by downloading our free resource.

This is an update of an original Vera blog post published April 10, 2019. 

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