5 Things to Look for in Effective Virtualized Care

Interest in virtualized care, more specifically telemedicine, has grown to a fever pitch in the last year.

According to a Towers Watson survey, 22% of employers currently offer telemedicine to employees; 37% of employers expect to offer telemedicine 2015, and another 34% plan to offer it by the end of  2016.

Yet, despite the growing interest in telemedicine services, only 7% of employees and their families use it when offered.

The slow adoption rate can be attributed to a clunky, unintuitive user experience for some telemedicine interfaces, or the fee structure may be too high for some employers — especially when employees may not use the service.

Adam Jackson, CEO of Doctor on Demand, spoke to this issue in Jiff’s recent “3 Trends in Tech-Enabled Benefits” webinar. Jackson revealed that the Doctor on Demand team sought feedback from users and employers in order to optimize their platform to be secure and useful for users.

Based on that discussion, here are five lessons for success when trying out virtualized care or telemedicine point solutions.

1) Video improves the user experience

According to Jackson, the telemedicine user experience must be conducted over video. When patients can see the doctor they’re talking to, it builds trust in the provider and in the platform.

Additionally, the health provider on the other end can treat the patient more accurately if they can see the issue or ailment.

“[The provider] can treat so many more things over video,” said Jackson.

2) Consider low-risk fee structures

Fee structures for telemedicine services can start to add up for the employer. For instance, there may be a charge for services provided on the site, implementation fees, and as well as visits to the doctor.  

Jackson added, “Plenty of employers have been burned by telemedicine in the past because they’re paying high fees and getting low utilization.”

A low-risk fee structure, such as no upfront costs, or integration fees will help drive appropriate utilization and drive down costs for the employer.

3) There must be high-quality providers on the other end

A telemedicine platform must offer trained and reputable professionals that are carefully vetted by the service.

What’s more, these health providers should undergo rigorous credentialing and ongoing quality-control programs to ensure they’re meeting the highest standard in telemedicine.

4) Privacy and security are critical for building trust

According to a Becker Hospital Review whitepaper, some healthcare providers implement telemedicine programs improperly — they haven’t taken firewalls, encryption for video, or authentication protocols — which, despite best intentions, put the patient’s privacy at risk.

The platform has to have absolute, top-notch security. For instance, a telehealth program as to be HIPAA compliant, and include world-class security and encryption.

Without this level of security, the patients and the employer will never trust the platform or providers enough to use the service.

5) Make it “dead easy” to use

Jackson emphasized that the telehealth service must be intuitive and avoid complexity, or unnecessary bells and whistles.

“It has to be dead easy…It can’t be catered to the techie crowd,” he added.

Creating a simple, easy-to-use interface can drive engagement and utilization — a principle that is also used in core design principles to spur usage in health benefits programs, according James Currier’s presentation on Game Design Best Practices in Health Benefits.

For more information, guides, or best practices for choosing the right point solutions or implementing high-impact health benefit programs, visit Jiff’s Resource Page.