Payers must support virtual health for long-term success, UC Davis Health CEO says

The pandemic helped cause a boom in virtual healthcare that was enjoyed by patients and physicians alike. However, without support from payers, this care is difficult for hospitals to provide, according to David Lubarsky, MD, CEO of Sacramento, Calif.-based UC Davis Health However, he also discussed the benefits virtual care brought to the team and said he has hope for its future during a Jan. 28 episode of the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast." 

Editor's note: This response was lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. David Lubarsky: Here's the problem: Very often, practice follows the best funding, and really funding could follow the best practices. And that's actually what happened during COVID. Now there are threats to roll some of this back, but we had equivalent pay for doing virtual visits to in-person visits for the physicians. After all, you are actually compensating them for their time. Also, the idea that at-home monitoring will allow us to unburden some of our highest-acuity hospitals and will allow us to provide more convenient care where patients want it, how they want it, and when they want it in their own homes, right?  

But that has to actually be followed by payers who are willing to pay for the time and effort and the technology that it takes to accomplish that in the long run. You have to allow for the investment of the infrastructure and the reimbursement of the time that it takes to perfect this and we're not quite at that universally, but I think that we will get there. 

I think on another level, it's really opened up an ability for organizations like ours to really cement our clinical partnerships with community hospitals. It was incredibly beneficial, not only for the patients, which is the number one issue, but also for the development of trust between the different physician groups and different facilities that we were there to support each other. And that was a really great thing to see.

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