December 12, 2017

Utilization Series: Three trends accelerating utilization of virtual healthcare access in a mobile world

By Stephany Verstraete

Where is your smartphone right now? Likely close by. Today, 90% of adults under the age of 65 have a smartphone, and there is no doubt it is changing expectations for how and the speed at which we access almost everything. In this two-part blog series, we will explore how our mobile society is impacting consumer expectations, and how healthcare must stay out in front to keep consumers engaged.

With 90% of adults under the age of 65 having smartphones today, tapping into the “always connected” nature of this mobile world is fundamentally changing how people navigate their individual healthcare journeys. Today, people of all ages are increasingly comfortable with personal technology and accessing remote services, as research shows that 2/3 of Americans either have or are open to using mobile health apps to manage their health.

Keeping up with how individual healthcare expectations are evolving (hint: employees now expect 24/7 digital) means having on-demand, mobile solutions as part of your telehealth benefit. Virtual care delivery services not only provide access, they do so in an experience that is perfectly aligned with their lifestyle, their expectations. And it all begins from their mobile device.

Here are three trends that are driving rapidly accelerating consumer adoption of virtual care delivery offerings:

1. The connected virtual care experience overcomes system gridlock.

Integrating patient, pharmacy and provider data with advances in technology, artificial intelligence and analytics enables the right virtual care delivery offering to transform how we navigate to the right care experience. The experience shifts from “how would you like to connect” to answering “what is the best way for me to get care”.

At Teladoc, we are using a marriage of these advances to make navigation seamless, intuitive and approachable; a patient who is looking for help getting answers can engage in a guided experience…for example, when the question is: My knee hurts, what should I do? A patient can quickly be presented with a curated set of recommendations tailored to his or her specific situation. The entry to the care experience is transformed from intimidating and confusing to one that provides a great degree of relief and confidence.

2. “Mobile” is bigger than video.

The mobile experience today isn’t just one device, or connecting with a doctor over video. It’s multiple devices, being used differently, and often together. At Teladoc we see almost three quarters of those who are contacting us are using their mobile phones, requesting a visit either through the web, app or a call. Further, just over ¼ of those who use the service more than once, do so using different access methods; they may register using the app, but call using their smartphone to request a visit when their child is sick late at night.

3. Mobile is multigenerational (not just millennial).

While telehealth has long met the needs of families with young kids, effectively redirecting costly late-night ER visits to diagnose & treat the flu, today’s solutions seamlessly enable delivery of multigenerational care in one easy-to-use benefit. As mainstream mobile adoption now spans generations, we see virtual care delivery addressing a broad array of needs: millennials are responding to tele-behavioral health services at record rates; caregivers can be meaningful participants regardless of their location; the most costly care cases can access expert advice from a specialist from anywhere in the world.

On demand access to high quality care is an expectation – one that every organization should be able to deliver upon. The right telehealth offering delivers today’s expectations, playing an impactful role in empowering individuals to make smarter decisions for a broad array of healthcare needs – from treating a child’s fever symptoms to mental health issues to getting expert second opinions on the most complex conditions.

As you assess your (or your clients’) approach to your telehealth benefit, and identify next steps to advance your organization, don’t forget to ask:

  • Does your telehealth benefit offer a complete spectrum of services including behavioral health and expert second opinions?

  • How can your provider help you address the most costly claimants?

  • Can your employees engage on their terms?

Stay tuned for the next blog in the series where I’ll address making utilization a reality by capitalizing on “micro moments”.