Forum 2022: Insights from the global community advancing virtual care

Approximately 3,000 people assembled in Boston and virtually from around the world for Forum 2022. Along with more than 60 presenters across 35-plus main-stage sessions, fireside chats and panel discussions, attendees explored the meaning of whole-person virtual care, what it’s delivering today and the many possibilities it holds for the future. Read on for a few key themes that emerged.

Whole-person care is here to stay

Forum attendees explored the power of whole-person care, defined as a delivery model that addresses a full set of physical and mental healthcare needs in addition to socioeconomic factors to help people live healthier lives.

As Jason Gorevic, CEO of Teladoc Heath, mentioned in his opening remarks, the benefits of whole-person care are clear—for consumers, hospital and health systems, health plans and employers. For consumers who are tired of point solutions that are limited in their scope and their long-term impact, whole-person care allows them to access a portfolio of solutions so they can make the health and wellness choices that are right for them. In fact, a recent survey shows that 60% of consumers say they’re interested in a virtual-first plan, and 78% prefer a single, unified experience for managing their mental and physical health.

Whole-person care gives hospitals and health systems a way to extend care, lower costs and enable high-quality outcomes. It also gives clinicians, who are already stretched thin, a way to care for their communities—connecting patients with specialists in other places and helping relieve shortages of nurses and other clinicians. It’s a seamlessly integrated, hybrid care experience, designed from the ground up to be virtually native, connected, personalized and frictionless.

Virtual primary care plays a powerful role in connecting people to care

Throughout Forum 2022, attendees heard how a virtual primary care model can serve as an effective on-ramp to other healthcare services for managing chronic conditions, including mental health. “As a consumer, whole-person care starts when you open the app or pick up the phone, tell us what you’re dealing with and get routed to the right person—maybe your primary care physician,” said Gorevic. That physician will either resolve your issue on the spot, help you manage your needs virtually over time or refer you to a high-quality in-network clinician in your community. And you’ll have access to everyone from dietitians to mental health professionals to help manage every aspect of your health.

Other presenters shared their real-world experiences with this connected experience and the positive impact it’s having on the people they serve. Health plans, employers and brokers spoke to the value in moving forward with a whole-person solution—from prediabetes to hypertension and diabetes, as well as mental health—to meet the needs of people with complex conditions.

Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella, Chief Medical Officer for Teladoc Health, shared a recent analysis of Teladoc Health members that underscores this point. For example, people enrolled in the Teladoc Health diabetes management program and another program, such as hypertension or weight management, saw greater improvement in their A1c levels compared to those enrolled in only the diabetes management program. Enrollment in our mental health program was the greatest contributor to improved clinical outcomes.

Innovation is accelerating the possibilities virtual care offers

Innovation is alive and well among the Forum community, as illustrated by many Forum 2022 presenters. For example, attendees heard Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), discuss how virtual care and telehealth can drive innovation and move health equity forward by providing more access to care. These technologies can be used to enable better communication in a team-based approach, allowing the care team to treat “people as people” as opposed to an individual with a specific condition.

Employers and health plans shared their experiences as virtual care moves from being an embedded benefit or option to becoming a virtual-first benefit design that offers cost savings, access to care and better care coordination.

Meanwhile, health systems from around the country shared how they use virtual care to improve operations and the patient and clinician experience. For example, organizations that serve rural communities are using it to extend access to pulmonologists, pediatric emergency department doctors and other critical care clinicians, leading to better clinical outcomes for patients. This also helps reduce costs and strain on the system, whether that’s avoiding the need for air transport or diverting patients to telemedicine who would otherwise go to the emergency room. Organizations are also finding innovative ways to address the nursing shortage with virtual care.

We have a shared responsibility to improve healthcare for all

Threaded throughout many of the conversations at Forum 2022 was the importance of partnership with each other and the communities we serve. For example, attendees explored the need to partner with community organizations and local leaders to help improve social health—and the role technology plays to meet people where they are to reduce health inequities. “True digital equity is the ability to ensure the people who want to engage on the digital front have the ability to meet their goals,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, SVP & Chief Health Officer of Kaiser Permanente. Presenters also shared their experiences using virtual care to efficiently offer high-quality healthcare to underserved populations and in areas hit by natural or man-made disasters.

Overall, Forum 2022 underscored the power of bringing together people, organizations, solutions and innovations to make a lasting positive impact. As Teladoc Health CEO Jason Gorevic remarked, “going forward, every organization will need to find a partner who can grow and change with them. Because the world isn’t standing still, and virtual care shouldn’t either.”

Don’t miss a single moment. Get more insights on the future of virtual care from Forum 2022.