The next frontier for telehealth and value-based care

The pandemic accelerated a shift to virtual care, shining a light on the potential of this technology to transform care delivery and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Virta hosted a webinar April 1 on this topic, titled "Healthcare 2021: The Year of Tele-everything." The webinar featured:

  • Bob Kocher, MD, partner at venture capital firm Venrock and former health economics and policy adviser during the Obama administration
  • Rahul Rajkumar, MD, JD, COO of Optum UnitedHealth
  • Robert Ratner, MD, CMO of Virta Health and former CMO of the American Diabetes Association

Three takeaways from the presentation:

1. Dr. Kocher said investor interest in telehealth soared during the pandemic for primary care, specialty care and mental health. Although he anticipates some shift back to in-person visits, he said many health systems will adopt a hybrid model of care to serve patients locally and expand geographic reach.

"One of the most extraordinary things to have happened last year is that capital has flowed into healthcare in unprecedented ways," said Dr. Kocher. "As the world grappled with the pandemic, people realized we would need a better healthcare system in America and globally, and that system is much more hybrid. It's not so much dependent on the in-person visit but one that combines virtual care, texting, email, continuously monitoring patients and a lot more feedback from patients and patient-reported outcomes."

2. Dr. Rajkumar focused on the future of value-based care in his portion of the presentation. He said progress has stalled in the shift toward current alternative payment models and he sees the next frontier as being value-based specialty care.

"To unlock the potential of specialty care and bring [specialists] into the value-based framework, we are going to have to solve a lot of microproblems," Dr. Rajkumar said. "One is: Who is the quarterback? Who is responsible for this patient's care? If you introduce a specialist into the equation, how do you adjudicate who is responsible for the clinical problem and how do you divide up the shared savings? Who is responsible for the losses or savings generated?"

3. Dr. Ratner spoke about the importance of type 2 diabetes prevention and weight loss to improve overall health. He also outlined multiple studies showing the efficacy of intervention among high-risk individuals. This type of intervention could also help from a financial standpoint, as diabetes accounted for more than $400 billion in 2017 healthcare spending and societal expenses.

"The simple fact is, the data are now accumulating that diabetes prevention reduces microvascular complications, it reduces cardiovascular risk factors, it reduces surrogates of atherosclerosis, and now we can even demonstrate a reduction in cardiovascular events and death," he said. "From a public health standpoint, it's very clear: We must prevent diabetes, otherwise our health systems will be consumed by it."

Click here to view the entire presentation.

Click here to learn more about Virta.


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