Catalyst for Payment Reform

Throwback Thursday: How telehealth fits into a high-value purchasing strategy?

Throwback Thursday: How telehealth fits into a high-value purchasing strategy?

In the olden days, doctors would make house calls – carrying their small black bags and visiting patients in the comfort of their own homes.  Today, the traditional house call is being reinvented and brought back with the use of modern technology.  Today, patients can get house calls through telehealth.

The Center for Connected Health Policy defines telehealth as “a collection of means or methods for enhancing health care, public health, and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies.”  But put in plain and simple terms, telehealth is the use of technology to help consumers gain access to health care providers more conveniently.

Telehealth has many benefits and just as many uses.  Having a hard time seeing a doctor during the workday, or can’t see a doctor due to a lack of providers in your area?  Telehealth can give consumers access to providers outside of their geographic area and give patients the ability to consult with providers remotely while at work via telecommunications.  In addition, telehealth has a wide array of applications including primary care, behavioral health, dermatology, and more.

Telehealth can also save employers and other health care purchasers money, as well as consumers.  For instance, it can minimize the costs incurred by both parties from unnecessary emergency department visits, reducing employers’ health spending and employees’ out-of-pocket costs.  This is especially true for consumers with high-deductible health plans.

So, how can telehealth fit into your high-value health care purchasing strategy?  For starters, while telehealth is still mainly used to extend primary care access and reduce emergency room visits, it can offer solutions for a far greater array of health care needs.  It can also work well with different payment reforms, like capitation, and benefit designs, such as high-deductible health plans.  And in markets where there is too little competition among health care providers, telehealth can act as a new entrant, challenging incumbent providers to improve access, quality, and prices.  As telehealth and its use evolves over time, purchasers should think about how to leverage this offering.

Interested in optimizing your use of telehealth?  Check out our Guide for Purchasers: How Telehealth Fits into a High-Value Purchasing Strategy to learn more.

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