More hybrid virtual care and asynchronous telemedicine on the way for 2024

By Bill Siwicki

More hybrid virtual care and asynchronous telemedicine on the way for 2024

Now that telemedicine is a mainstream method for healthcare delivery, C-suite executives and health IT leaders at provider organizations must keep a sharp eye on trends in virtual care. Telemedicine is too important now to take for granted.

To get a look ahead at what this new year may have in store for telehealth, Healthcare IT News sat down with Jon Salon, president of MDLive, an Evernorth Company, a virtual healthcare delivery services vendor. We discussed further adoption, the hybrid care model, chronic care management, worksite healthy clinics and asynchronous telemedicine.

 

What is one of the most important telemedicine predictions you have for 2024?

We can expect to see tremendous growth and adoption in virtual primary care and hybrid care models in 2024.

Access to primary care is critical to improving patient outcomes and preventing costly complications that result from patients delaying or avoiding care. With the growing provider supply shortage and the increasing demand for primary care, wait times for office visits can be weeks or months in many areas of the country. In addition, virtual care can eliminate other barriers patients face in seeking routine and preventive care services, such as time constraints, lost work hours and transportation.

MDLive is experiencing significant growth in virtual primary care. Our virtual primary care visit volume has more than doubled in the past year. I predict we will continue to see exponential growth in patient adoption and digital, virtual-led plan design as virtual care providers continue to evolve their capabilities to address the longitudinal needs of patients, including seamlessly connecting them to physical sites of care when needed. And there is more data and insights showcasing how virtual primary care is improving health and value.

 

You suggest there will be interesting developments in 2024 with technology integrations coming to the forefront in the area of chronic care management. Please elaborate.

The patient’s relationship with their primary care provider and ability to stay connected to their care team is especially important for people living with chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Virtual care providers continue to make strides in using technology tokeep patients with chronic conditions engaged in between doctor visits and help them better manage their conditions on a daily basis.

Many research studies have shown the value of using digital tools to support chronic care patients in their care plan, medication regimen, and tracking healthy behaviors, like weight management, diet and exercise.

We recently expanded MDLive virtual primary care to include digital health coaching for patients with chronic conditions starting with hypertension. This is already proving to be a valuable tool for our providers and patients – within a few months of the launch, more than 80% of these patients have been prescribed digital health coaching in their care plans.

 

What is another important telehealth prediction you have for 2024?

As employers continue to roll out plans to bring employees back to the office at least some of the time, they are looking for ways to provide more support for employees’ physical, mental and emotional health – both in-person while at the office, and through digital tools and virtual care.

Health services at the office that we expect to see include worksite health clinics, behavioral and occupational health services, and health coaches, but with a hybrid component to keep employees working virtually engaged and maintaining healthy lifestyles.

This is a sophisticated evolution of workplace wellness programs that should render better engagement and health outcomes.

 

You also point to a growing trend of asynchronous telemedicine care in 2024. Please discuss.

Asynchronous care is another way to address the provider shortage we are experiencing in the U.S. It also helps to further break down common barriers to patients getting care when they need it.

Asynchronous care gives healthcare providers a way to effectively triage and treat hundreds of common, low-acuity conditions more efficiently, eliminating as much as 90% of providers’ administrative work. It can free up providers to spend more meaningful time with the patients who need it, while providing a lower-cost care option for urgent and other basic healthcare needs.

One proven benefit of virtual care is that it helps to drive better outcomes by breaking down access, convenience and other common barriers that often result in patients delaying care. Asynchronous care provides consumers with a simpler and even more convenient option by allowing them to quickly access care without having to connect live with a provider. We can expect adoption to grow as consumer access to asynchronous care options increase, especially among younger consumers who prefer asynchronous interactions over live conversations for managing many aspects of their lives.

Earlier this year, Evernorth announced the acquisition of the technology platform of Bright.md, a company in the asynchronous care space. MDLive is looking forward to rolling out an asynchronous care option in 2024 for patients seeking care for a broad range of common, low-acuity conditions through our on-demand, urgent care offering.

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