November 27, 2018

Three Imperatives for a Successful Virtual Care Program

By Dyan Bymark, VP of Marketing and Product, Hospital and Health Systems

Virtual care programs are at the forefront of our changing healthcare landscape—making providing and accessing care easier for doctors and patients alike. When organizations understand the critical success factors for implementing a telehealth program, they can advance their business objectives and increase program adoption by considering three primary aspects when designing a virtual care program: pricing, executive sponsorship, and communication initiatives. Whether providing telehealth options to employees, direct-to-consumer, or to commercialize to local employers, these strategies are proven to support successful consumer telehealth programs.

Right Price

The first and sometimes the most important consideration is price. It is important for organizations to work closely with their telehealth partner to identify high-cost care appropriate for telehealth and adjust visit fees based on thorough analysis. Setting the right price is critical to driving virtual care adoption.

Pricing should be competitive enough to redirect patients to seek virtual care first when appropriate. For health systems, it can be beneficial to research neighboring systems, minute clinics, and urgent care centers to ensure your virtual care program is priced competitively and logically within your market. With this research, providers will understand what services and prices to offer virtually—and how much consumers are willing to pay.

For example, WellSpan Health focused on plan design to match member copays and visit fees typically charged in an ED or urgent care. This flexibility was advantageous—the health system doubled its telehealth enrollment goal within six months—and emphasized the importance of determining right pricing for a client base.

Executive Sponsorship

Secondly, an organization’s leaders supporting a virtual care program speaks volumes and is an underpinning for programs to achieve rapid growth and scale. Having meaningful executive sponsorship aligns stakeholders with existing organizational goals, boosts confidence among staff, and enhances the program’s awareness and visibility with care providers, professionals, and the surrounding communities they serve.

In many cases, executive sponsorship offers a general direction for the company to go in—enabling the alignment necessary to ensure the organization is moving forward to expand telehealth services cohesively. Well-supported programs with deep and wide participation across the organization can help integrate it into the company culture, encouraging individuals to reassess how they view healthcare for themselves and for loved ones.

Communication Initiatives

Last and not any less important: Effective communication is at the core of achieving long-term success. The connection a consumer has with their care provider can ultimately impact the way they approach and experience healthcare. This means deciding what tactics in a multifaceted marketing strategy most efficiently and effectively reach your audience.

Of course, marketing strategies differ based on audience and use case. It is important to understand that those working in healthcare may already have an understanding of virtual care. The general public, on the other hand, may be unfamiliar or unsure of what to expect. Tailoring your communication to your audience is imperative for the desired response.

Keeping this in mind, applicable communication strategies to elicit engagement might include  intranet banners and benefit fairs for employees, while patient education and registration upon discharge is recommended for existing patient populations. Regardless of the tactic, the goal is relatively the same: Create awareness with your audience and educate them on how to use your program.

Implementation with an Impact

To conclude, laying the groundwork for a virtual-first approach to healthcare delivery takes more than having a well-designed telehealth platform. As outlined, organizations see exponential adoption and program success by considering these three essential elements: the right price, influential executive sponsorship, and adhering to ongoing tailored communication initiatives. A successful virtual care program can increase accessibility to healthcare services, improve care quality and organizational efficiency, and grow your market share.