Virtual care transformation — 4 insights from leading health systems & Teladoc Health

As health systems emerge from the pandemic, many are asking strategic questions such as: What business do we want to be in? What roles do virtual and hybrid care play? What do we do ourselves and where do we partner?

During a March webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Teladoc Health, Bruce Brandes, senior vice president of health system innovation at Teladoc Health, discussed digital health trends, focused on virtual and hybrid care, and shared insights from leading health systems about their virtual health strategies.

Four insights:

  1. Massive disruption is occurring in healthcare, which presents opportunities and threats. Among the disruptions are a convergence between major segments, a shift to "digital first" and increased competition from nontraditional players. Part of this disruption is due to the rapid adoption of virtual care during the pandemic. One conclusion among health system leaders is that after the pandemic, care delivery will be a hybrid model. "We all know that it's not in-person care or virtual care," Mr. Brandes said. "The future of healthcare is the seamless fusion of the two." For health systems with leaders that understand this, virtual care is a transformational opportunity; for naysayers, it is an existential threat.

  1. The digital disruption will affect how and where care is delivered. Historically, health systems delivered episodic care in specific locations. But the future of healthcare is not about episodic care at specific sites; it is about putting consumers at the center of their healthcare journey, keeping them healthy and "making care ubiquitously available anytime, anywhere," Mr. Brandes said. This represents a fundamental shift in when, how and where care is delivered.

  1. As digital disruption occurs, trusted health systems are well positioned for success. Today's fragmented healthcare environment is being complicated by competition from big tech, major retailers and venture-backed companies. Consumers are confused and are "looking for someone they can trust, to help them navigate their health journey to a healthier life," Mr. Brandes said. This role could be claimed by trusted local health systems. Health systems can leverage their trusted brands and relationships, while implementing digital tools in a hyper-personalized way to provide proactive rather than reactive care. By seizing this opportunity, incumbent health systems can prevent disruptors from gaining traction in local markets.

    The presence of new competitors and technologies is causing health system leaders to reflect on strategic questions such as, "Who do we want to be as a health system? What business do we want to be in?"

  1. Health system leaders must decide what to do themselves and where to partner. During the pandemic, to provide virtual care, health systems quickly adopted various virtual care point solutions. However, now health systems are thinking longer term about their virtual and hybrid strategy. Many are reflecting on what they do themselves and where they partner. "Not long ago, some major health systems spent millions of dollars building their own electronic health records. Those failed, and they realized it wasn't their core business," Mr. Brandes said. The same dilemma now exists with virtual care. "Opportunities [in virtual care] lie with organizations whose core business it is to support your core business."

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