Private insurance companies are embracing health it today and anticipating more growth to come. Why? They understand the care model is shifting as patients are becoming more connected and demanding more convenience and efficiency of healthcare services.
Despite some of the hurdles along the way to mass adoption, recent initiatives and investments by private insurance companies appear to reveal health it, like the mobile devices that support it, will soon become the norm.
This recent interview on Public Sector View with John Jesser, vice president of power engagement at health insurer Anthem, reveals some of the changing expectations of patients, and how Anthem’s recent telemedicine services have been received.
Here is what John had to say:
John Jesser: Consumers are seeking more convenient, affordable access to healthcare. Anthem is committed to helping improve the access of all Americans to quality, affordable healthcare and we recognize the need for healthcare to become more accessible and convenient than ever before especially with an anticipated shortage of primary care doctors, crowded ERs and continued rising costs.
Anthem health plans are proud to lead the industry in health it. Some of the Anthem health plans were the first insurers to incorporate a health it solution as an in-network standard benefit. Also, Anthem plans were the first to incorporate a health it program as a standard benefit for Medicare Advantage members.
Several changes are coming together to make this an optimal time for health it to flourish. The first change is technology. The mass adoption of smart phones and the rapid development of high-speed broadband have created an environment where high-quality video is more and more the norm. The second is the lack of access to medical care – either through doctor shortages or limited access based on where people are physically at any given point of time. The third is the Affordable Care Act, which is creating a greater demand for medical services from people not previously insured.
And, Anthem health plans specifically look to LiveHealth Online as one of the ways it can respond to individual consumer needs for convenience, access and affordability.
Editors: What has the reception been like among Anthem patients? How many Anthem patients have taken advantage? What kinds of healthcare services are they most frequently utilizing?
Jesser: The telemedicine services have been extremely well received.
Forty-eight percent of consumers of an online service have told us on average it saved them three hours in traveling to and from a doctor’s office or urgent care facility, while 33 percent said they saved more than two hours of time.
Editors: Have telemedicine services increased access to care for Anthem patients? Has it led to a measurable improvement in quality of care and outcomes? Are there any metrics or anecdotes you can share?
Jesser: Yes, we believe it has led to increased access. In surveys, many consumers have said the visits saved them hours of time getting to the doctor when they didn’t feel up to driving or sitting in a waiting room.
Some research has already been conducted in this area and more is forthcoming. The American Telemedicine Association tracks research here. A study conducted by Rand and published in Health Affairs in March 2014, determined there was no increase in clinical misdiagnosis or errors in treatment among those using health it.
Editors: Where do you see the service going in the future? Will it be grown to cover more patients? More healthcare services?
Jesser: Absolutely, health it is growing by leaps and bounds. We believe it will soon extend to more types of insured consumers, such as Medicaid members. Already, we’re seeing a specialization of health it services for behavioral health. And, we see potential in the areas of nutrition and maternal health.
Click here to read the full interview on Public Sector View.