Leveraging Virtual Care to Increase Access and Triage Patients

Woman on Phone Screen Virtual CareVirtual care has the potential to increase access, reduce costs and help patients make better decisions about their care as symptoms arise. Fulfilling these lofty goals may be a work in progress, but evolving telemedicine platforms are attempting to solve some of health care’s perplexing problems — how to increase access to primary care while delivering it in the most-appropriate cost setting.

Recently, Doctor on Demand launched a major platform update to its virtual primary care services to help health plans and employers expand access to care. MedCity News reports that the Synapse platform is designed to serve Doctor on Demand’s range of payer and employer customers by plugging into their existing health care offerings with cheaper, deeper and more efficient virtual care options. The partnership between Doctor on Demand, health plans and employers bypasses providers and drives care to lower-cost settings.

Using Synapse, the company’s customers can more easily link their existing provider networks with Doctor on Demand’s personal medical group, which is being expanded to include nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dietitians and care coordinators. This will help the company move beyond current services in urgent care and behavioral health to meet needs in areas like preventive health and chronic-disease management.

This move is also significant because it could help address the large number of Americans who don’t have a primary care provider. The Health Care Cost Institute reports that the number of primary care visits dropped by 18 percent between 2012 and 2016.

But as with most areas of technology, Doctor on Demand faces competition from companies like 98point6, K Health and First Stop Health in this space. As Healthcare Dive points out, however, with the press for interoperability and gaps in primary care, targeting Synapse at employers and health plans could help the platform scale up more quickly than its competitors.

For more on how hospitals can build capacity to expand access, improve outcomes and reduce costs with telehealth, read the new AHA Market Insights report Telehealth: A Path to Virtual Integrated Care.