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Telemedicine: a virtual-first approach and expanded primary care

Along with mental health, virtual care and the opportunity it presents for expanded access to primary care, stood at the forefront of discussions around healthcare. With employers looking for options to keep their employees safe from COVID while still able to access care, many turned to solutions like 98point6, an app that delivers on-demand diagnosis and treatment from board-certified physicians, and Teladoc, a multinational telemedicine and virtual health company.

We spoke to 98point6’s Chief Medical Officer, Brad Younggren, MD who is an Emergency Physician, along with Teladoc’s President of their US Group Health, Kelly Bliss, to hear their predictions for 2022.

Dr. Younggren said he anticipates 2022 being a year of expansion–of access to healthcare, of the use of technology in monitoring care, and of care offerings. “In the months to come, patients will be looking for more holistic, accessible healthcare, Younggren said. “Providers and employers will respond with single-point, on-demand, virtual solutions that offer primary care, mental health care, wellbeing guidance, and more.”

Along with virtual care, Younggren highlighted the huge opportunity that lies in remote patient monitoring (RPM), as devices that can offer much-needed capacity relief to our healthcare systems while simultaneously benefitting patients.

“Imagine a wearable device that monitors blood pressure or blood oxygen, then not only collects and transmits that information to care providers, but does so in a format that doctors can use,” Younggren said. “Such devices have the potential to reduce hospitalizations, readmissions, and lengths of stay, all of which reduce care costs while also improving patient quality of life.”

Kelly Bliss of Teladoc said virtual primary care has emerged as a key area of long-term investment for payers and employers alike, and she and her colleagues at Teladoc expect this to gain even more momentum heading into 2022 and beyond. She said the benefits of virtual-first care go beyond increased access to primary care.

“In addition to expanding access to primary care, a virtual first approach can be used to prevent downstream health complications and costs through prevention and screening. The type of care coordination and clinical navigation assistance provided by these plans will be commonplace in benefit designs across the board.”


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