September 20, 2018

The key to improving outcomes and reducing costs

Navigating the healthcare system isn’t easy—employees face misdiagnosis, overtreatment, and medical uncertainty. In fact, nearly everyone will face a misdiagnosis in their lifetime due to systemic challenges like physician time restraints and care fragmentation. For employers, this can mean increased high-cost claims and productivity loss as employees need extended time off—but all without improved outcomes.

Employees are in need of a solution to ensure they are taking the best course of action, so they have confidence when making important medical decisions. Expert medical services, backed by a comprehensive virtual care solution, can help employees do just that, all while reducing high-cost claims, absenteeism, and presenteeism for employers.

“Expert Medical Opinion adds to your relationship with your doctor, it doesn’t replace it. Our research shows that during an office visit, a patient hears less than half of what’s said, which means patients often leave appointments with un-asked or un-answered questions. We help fill that gap. When you work with our team, you have unlimited opportunity to get your questions asked and answered,” explained Heather Towery, MD, vice president of medical strategy at Teladoc Health.

Personalizing care with expert medical services

One member, Dan, had bone cancer as a young man and successful treatment put him into remission. However, the damage from the radiation and surgical treatments led to arthritis and chronic pain in his hip. Tired of countless doctors’ appointments without a solution, Dan reached out to get an Expert Medical Opinion through his virtual care offering with Teladoc Health.

Dan’s case was reviewed by a top orthopedic surgeon, who recommended he have a total right hip replacement. While looking for a treating physician to perform this surgery, Dan consulted four different doctors who advised four other options ranging from doing nothing and living with the pain to removing his leg entirely and dealing with lifelong complications—none of which that would provide him both relief and be the least invasive.

At a loss for what to do next, Dan contacted the expert who reviewed his case. He asked the expert to perform the operation, and he agreed. The surgery was successful, and Dan recovered quickly, allowing him to return to work and slowly reduce the dosages of his pain medication. With the appropriate treatment, Dan saved nearly $25,000 and avoided a more invasive procedure that would have limited his function and extended his recovery time.

The value of expert input

Dan’s story is a real-life scenario that provides a look at how expert medical services are the solution to healthcare’s greatest cost drivers. With a virtual care program, Dan also has access to follow-up care for a broad array of conditions he might also need resolution for—for example, if he has questions about his medication, he can get answers from an expert orthopedist, or he can access a mental health professional if he needs some additional support while going through treatment.

“What does it take to help patients navigate their complex care journey? Our list: 1) Patient trust, 2) The best medical minds, and 3) A commitment to delivering high quality care,” said David Harrison, MD, medical director and vice president of clinical quality at Teladoc Health. “We are providing a blueprint for care, guiding members through the best paths to manage their complex conditions.”

The big question: Is your employee benefits program offering a virtual care service that has a large-scale effect? Real results are achieved when telehealth and expert medical services come together. Employers with a comprehensive solution have:

  • Better utilization – Employers that only offer one virtual care service, as opposed to three or more, struggle to drive greater depth and breadth of engagement.

  • Improved outcomes – Teladoc Health’s Expert Medical Services improve 45 percent of diagnoses and 75 percent of treatments. With one vendor, employees don’t have to navigate disparate solutions and can get to a quicker, more personalized resolution to their needs.

  • Increased savings – An integrated solution addresses the entire cost spectrum, from episodic needs to high-cost claims.

  • A resolution to point-solution fatigue – At least 60 percent of employers pay additional fees to have data for each point solution aggregated by a consultant or third-party administrator to simplify the process, but with a comprehensive solution, there’s no need.