The pandemic disrupted the status quo of how healthcare was delivered. It became more challenging to access quality healthcare where face-to-face treatment was limited. Virtual care allowed high-quality providers to use technology to power the delivery of a broader level of primary care services, including clinical care navigation, mental and behavioral health, musculoskeletal and chronic disease management, and other well-being services. On-site and near-site primary care clinics were some of the first to effectively pivot their services to a virtual-first care model. During the pandemic, statistics and surveys indicate previously skeptical members became willing participant virtual care participants, and many became advocates of the virtual-first model of healthcare delivery. The 2022 NFP Trend Report indicated that 36% of employers realize home access to care is necessary to your employees’ well-being.
The pandemic also caused a delay of necessary healthcare. Whether it was a fear of attending routine appointments or check-ups, a rejection of virtual care, or the inability to navigate the new virtual system, some of your people are behind on taking care of their healthcare needs. Employers recognize the need to address these challenges in the emerging healthcare delivery models which include both a high tech and high touch approach to facilitate the preferences of a multi-generational workforce.
A Guide to Virtual Care
The past several years spotlighted the impact of the growing shortage of primary care providers and the growing dissatisfaction in the US workforce. Improving access to quality healthcare is key to improving value in establishing the right benefit coverage. A comprehensive study performed by Merritt Hawkins (2017) identified a 24.1 day wait time to get an appointment with a primary care physician. Appropriate virtual care removes key barriers and delays in seeing a healthcare provider, which is improving healthcare outcomes. Virtual care supported by on-site and near-site primary care is demonstrating encouraging results with possible long-term integration into the right benefit coverage.
Virtual care offers an array of care services within the different definitions. Although the popularity and importance of virtual care is growing, selection of the right model is important to achieving the desired outcome.
Clinical Care Navigation: Right Care, Right Time, Right Provider
Recent events compounded the complexity of the siloed nature of the current care delivery system. Clinical care navigation has emerged as a return on value essential. The most effective clinical care navigation services include concierge level 24/7-member advocate support with a vendor who understands your employees’ benefit coverage care concerns, and can connect them to the right providers and services.
Telehealth includes a wide variety of technologies and services healthcare professionals utilize to improve the entire healthcare delivery system. This term includes clinical and non-clinical services.
Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth which specifically defines clinical services. Healthcare professionals provide such services with compliant privacy and secure electronic communications and software rather than an in-person visit at a practice. Telemedicine can be utilized by healthcare professionals for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and many other services.
Telecare (monitoring devices)
Telecare provides ongoing clinical data from a distance. Unlike telehealth and telemedicine, it is continuous and automatic, often referred to as wearables. Telecare services monitor patients and minimize a broad array of clinical health risks (e.g., diabetes, ECG, blood pressure, biosensors, fitness trackers etc.).
The Right Benefit Coverage Attracts – and Retains – Talent
The Great Resignation, combined with the overall healthcare reset, means that employees want the best benefit coverage and will not settle for anything less. Return on value is becoming a priority for most organizations. Taking care of your people, making sure that they are healthy mentally and physically, while also ensuring that they have the tools to take care of themselves adds significant value to their lives and helps retain their talent.
Putting the Right Coverage in Place
NFP works to evaluate all healthcare delivery models and assist employers to adapt to market conditions with existing, modified, or new emerging solutions. Partnering with the experts to present a comprehensive and diverse level of high-quality value-based coverage options gives you the edge you need to establish your company culture and attract top talent.
Written by Heidi Cottle, SVP, Cost Containment Strategies.