Population Health Insights

How Employer Health Plans Can Utilize Telehealth as a Value-Added Service


Much has been written about the benefits of telehealth services like remote care within the healthcare system. Time and again, remote patient management has been shown to improve patient satisfaction and lower operational costs, as perhaps best demonstrated by the success of the Mississippi Diabetes Health Network.

Lessons from the UMMC Diabetes Network

It’s of little surprise, then, to learn that the benefits offered by remote care also extend to employee health plans. Most employers who can embrace these benefits are already doing so: Healthcare IT News’ Bill Siwicki points to a survey finding that “virtually all employers (96 percent)” are offering some form of telehealth in 2018 if allowed to do so by state law.

In a recent editorial, Xtelligent Healthcare Media’s Thomas Beaton shows precisely how remote care can help employers implement an important value-added service to their health plans, outlining a number of key ways that remote care can act as a value-added service with employee health plans, including:

  • Improving the healthcare customer experience for employees
  • Providing a greater level of convenience to beneficiaries
  • Helping employees adopt general healthy behaviors
  • Keeping hospital admissions to a minimum
  • Improving general employee satisfaction

By improving patient engagement and healthy behaviors, telehealth has the potential to help keep employees out of the hospital. It also provides payers with a more effective means of ensuring medication adherence via engaging and easy-to-use digital communications and alerts.

“Telehealth and remote care provide an exceptional customer experience opportunity for payers,” Beaton adds. “Consumers want telehealth as a convenient way to receive checkups, preventive care, and non-critical services without the need for travel and wait times.”

From Value-Based Care to Value-Added Service

Compelling as his argument is, Beaton isn’t the first to make the connection between remote patient management and value-based healthcare.

“The primary reason that people buy remote patient monitoring,” as Care Innovations® Chief Operations Officer Marcus Grindstaff explains in a video from the RPM Academy, “is the savings to their organization.”

The growing popularity of telehealth is directly connected to the need to implement operational efficiencies within the healthcare system. And when it comes to delivering truly value-based care, telehealth services have yielded real results, the mounting evidence of which is leading to greater reimbursement allowances by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

How, exactly, do the benefits of remote patient management translate to value-added care? “We're not trying to push as much volume through a hospital,” Marcus says. “Rather, we're looking at the total value of care which is delivered, and how to deliver that at the lowest possible cost.”

Those same factors that make remote care perfectly suited to the delivery of value-based care — the cost savings it offers, for instance, or the improvements to quality of care and patient satisfaction — also make it an ideal value-added service for health plans.

How Telehealth Helps Meets the Unique Challenges of Employee Health Coverage

Yet there are advantages of remote care that could prove uniquely beneficial to employer health plans. And given that health plans are continuously being “challenged to improve customer service and member satisfaction in an industry that has not produced ideal member experiences,” as Beaton puts it, these advantages couldn’t arrive at a better time.

“At a time when health benefits are primarily cut, or their cost is shifted to the employee, adding modern and convenient healthcare benefits for employees can be a win for human resources leadership,” Siwicki writes.

“Commercial health plans are falling behind other industries in key consumer satisfaction metrics, including convenience, helpfulness, and user-friendliness,” Beaton adds. “Providing telehealth options could provide an opportunity for payers to address some of these concerns.”

Telehealth and remote care “allow payers to better serve their employer customers and enhance employer-sponsored insurance products,” he concludes. “Telehealth benefits and services can provide additional support for payer wellness programs that keep beneficiaries healthy and out of the hospital.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how telehealth and remote care can bring greater value to your health plan, we invite you to contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Care Innovations telehealth specialist.

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