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Reset or Revolutionize? What industry insiders predict for virtual care in 2024

Revolutionize or reset: Virtual care predictions for 2024

Nabomita Dutta, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Teladoc Health

Over my 15 years in the healthcare and technology industries, I can confirm one thing—change happens quickly. People want to keep up with the latest trends, but it’s important to remember that not all trends last.

Trends that appear poised to revolutionize the industry may encounter resistance. New technologies, economic developments, consumer preferences and more can shape how they are perceived. For plan sponsors to stay ahead, they need to know when it’s the right time to take a step back and reset.

Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing virtual care trends with Chris Regal, Director of Clinical Innovation at AHIP. We shared five key industry predictions for 2024, which we believe will either revolutionize the industry or may require a reset.

We discussed the shifting of benefit design, the evolution of retailer-driven virtual urgent care and the digital health marketplace to help plan sponsors more confidently plan for the future. I encourage you to check out the webinar, but I wanted to underscore two trends here that I think are especially relevant at this moment at Teladoc Health.

Generative AI is going to revolutionize the member experience

With the power of AI, companies are using data to offer personalized experiences. We’re at a point where consumers expect it and get frustrated when they receive broad messages or generic recommendations.

At Teladoc Health, AI is nothing new. But I think 2024 is when we’re going to see a big leap with the use of generative AI for an even more personalized experience. The time is right for our members. People are dealing with decision fatigue and looking for support when accessing appropriate care.

I’m confident in this prediction because we’re already starting to see the results. Our chronic care members now receive weekly communications powered by generative AI, which helps us create customized content for personalized outreach that has led to a 50 percent lift in engagement in just a few short months. This is in addition to other messages, like in-the-moment nudges based on 60+ AI models, we’ve been deploying for years.

These models and tools wouldn’t be nearly as effective without our rich data set. That’s really what makes them so powerful and why I expect the member experience to continue to transform.

Plan sponsors will reset GLP-1 prescription strategies

The use of GLP-1s has exploded. The number of people with prescriptions is up 40-fold in the last five years.

From AHIP’s perspective, balancing access and affordability is crucial to insurers and employers. They value flexibility, so they can evaluate costs while providing solutions that fit their population.

It’s why Teladoc Health is predicting that plan sponsors will reset their GLP-1 strategy in 2024. With direct-to-consumer prescribing and compounding medications, we’re seeing the negative effects of widespread usage. Now is the time to ensure GLP-1s and other anti-obesity medications are prescribed by trained clinicians following evidence-based guidelines.

This includes providing people on GLP-1s with a comprehensive care plan. According to a Teladoc Health survey, employers think virtual care has an important role to play—helping manage appropriate usage and offering ongoing support. And I’m eager to see how the role of virtual care unfolds. We recently launched enhanced capabilities of our weight and obesity care solution to help plan sponsors balance access and rising costs.

It’s premature to gauge the full impact of virtual care on GLP-1 strategies, but I expect to learn invaluable insights over the next year. Given that GLP-1s likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, it remains to be seen what predictions will emerge for 2025.

In conclusion, as we navigate the dynamic landscape of healthcare and technology, the speed of change is undeniable. Staying abreast of the latest trends is crucial, but it's equally important to recognize that not all trends withstand the test of time. The key for plan sponsors is to remain agile and discerning, understanding when to embrace transformative shifts and when a strategic reset is warranted.