To make virtual health more beneficial to employees, all stakeholders should pursue the integration of virtual and in-person care, a new study from Business Group on Health and Sage Growth Partners has found.
The group that if not integrated this service will become "increasingly fragmented, complex and more costly for all those involved, said the study, an analysis of four distinct groups of stakeholders: large employers, benefit consultants, vendors and investors."
The market for virtual health has been growing and between 2017 and 2011, almost $67 billion was invested.
“Virtual health has shown tremendous promise, especially during the pandemic,” said Ellen Kelsay, Business Group on Health CEO, in a statement. “However, it needs to be rationalized, demonstrate improved outcomes and be integrated with other health care services, including in-person care.”
Kelsay added, “Employers are seeking partnerships and accountability with other stakeholders to ensure that future virtual health solutions are effective and result in improved patient outcomes.”
Dan D’Orazio, chief executive officer of Sage Growth Partners, said, “Our study demonstrates that a rigorous, purposeful evaluation of virtual health – in combination with creative partnerships among stakeholders – will begin to deliver success. Virtual health has a place in reducing the total cost of care while improving patients’ health, a complex challenge that requires multifaceted solutions. Without true, cross-party collaboration, the impact will be suboptimal.”
The study recommended specific actions for all stakeholders, to fulfill the promise of virtual health. These include:
- Ensure that virtual health solutions enhance traditional care pathways;
- Establish and follow a basic framework to understand patients’ needs and desires concerning virtual health;
- Monitor consumer experience with virtual health from the user interface to navigation and support across the care continuum;
- As virtual health expands health care access, work to ensure that it is accessible for all;
- Communicate to patients in plain language about real health care challenges and how virtual health can solve them;
- Build continual outcomes measurement into solutions;
- Design and build virtual health solutions to promote integration;
- Form partnerships to optimize different areas of expertise;
- Employers, along with their consultants, can form a collective voice to ensure that their employees’ needs are being addressed, as patients, within virtual health; and
- All parties should be intentional when developing, offering and funding virtual health.