By Shriya Palekar, AVP Health Plan Solutions, TytoCare.
The COVID-19 outbreak led many to realize the transformative value the virtual world can bring to their industries. The healthcare industry – where virtual care and telehealth integration are becoming more and more accepted – is no exception.
In fact, telehealth utilization rates have stabilized, ranging from 13% to 17% of total care visits across all specialties in 2021, compared to pre-pandemic levels – an upward trend that has continued in 2022.
These spikes, however, do not guarantee that virtual care will become universally accepted, especially when it comes to primary and routine care that go beyond on-demand needs. Many health plan members are used to in-person appointments for these types of care, and 53% of people still prefer an in-person visit for a non-emergency health issue, assuming out-of-pocket costs are not a factor.
Given this reluctance, the question remains: how can health plans boost adoption rates of virtual primary and urgent care for the benefit of both members and the overall healthcare system?
When looking beyond urgent and acute medical services, there are still barriers to virtual care adoption that need to be addressed. The path to increased virtual care adoption for routine care lies in differentiating unique segments of members and understanding their needs individually. Health plans and healthcare systems need to engage their members by understanding who they are and by breaking them down into clear population segments to reveal their unique needs, and understand how best to personally incentivize these groups to buy-in to the world of virtual and hybrid care.