Healthcare provider goes digital to weather times of turbulence
In the short term, an increasing share of health service delivery will be virtual. Many office visits have been replaced by telehealth sessions over the past 20 months to navigate the Covid crisis, and this will continue to accelerate in the post-Covid era. It is estimated that more than 20% of all medical visits in 2020 were performed virtually, representing $ 29.3 billion in services, a report states of Doximity. In two years, up to $ 106 billion in healthcare spending could be spent on virtual services.
For John kao, CEO and founder of Health Alignment, a managed health insurance company primarily serving the elderly, Covid has accelerated its company’s adoption of digitally delivered services. “The need for virtual healthcare has exploded over the past year with no sign of slowing down, especially as payers and providers are able to offer more transparent virtual experiences to their members and patients,” he said. “Due to the security concerns of Covid-19, more and more people are now interested in virtual services and appreciate the convenience and flexibility they offer. ”
While Alignment has been offering remote care for some time, the company has launched its own first virtual health plan, called Alignment’s Virtual Application or AVA (HMO), an analytics and data platform that powers the interaction of virtual care with personalized and predictive member information. The platform provides members with a dedicated virtual primary care provider – accessible by phone or video – as well as in-person providers. For members who do not have access to a smartphone or computer, the company provides access to tablets and data plans.
AVA aggregates member datasets and evaluates data across more than 160 artificial intelligence models. The platform “fills gaps in the coordination of care for the elderly while enabling care teams to anticipate and deliver the right care at the right time,” Kao explains.
Kao sees digital innovation accelerate as the world emerges – hopefully soon – from the Covid-19 pandemic. “Virtual care offers many opportunities to make healthcare more accessible, without being limited by geographic boundaries and by leveraging technology through multiple channels,” says Kao. “Several payers and providers have started offering some form of telehealth service, and there is a huge opportunity to improve these offerings to make virtual and in-person care more transparent to patients.”
At the same time, companies like Alignment need to be aware that access to digital services is uneven. “There is still a digital divide that the industry will need to address,” says Kao. “To successfully deploy virtual care for everyone equitably, providers and payers will need to view access to technology as a social determinant of health, as it will play an important role in the healthcare journey. a patient. “
While on the front lines of the Covid crisis, Alignment also faced a night shift within his own workplace and in its relationships with its employees. “I have found that our associates are more adaptable to change than I would have thought possible,” says Kao. “In a matter of days, we moved most of our employees to a world of telecommuting, virtual meetings and working from home – a tall order given that our team of clinicians seeing patients in person at home or in a clinic also had to switch it to telehealth.
Many changes to remote work will remain permanent, calling for “a more nuanced approach to workplaces,” he continues. “We are evaluating the footprint of our facilities and our investments in order to accommodate a flexible workforce. As a result, he adds, “we need to rethink the employee experience with regard to individual differences such as home life, skills and abilities, and mindsets. Whether we work in an office or separately from our individual homes, we must maintain the spirit of collaboration and collegiality that binds us all together.
Digital innovation has also been key in efforts to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges. “While we are in the early stages of codifying our environmental, social and governance policies, we have used technology to improve equity and health outcomes for one of the most vulnerable populations during this period. pandemic – our elderly, ”Kao said. “Thanks to technology, we were able to continue to serve our members and patients without interruption at a time when they needed us most. “
Further, Kao points out, “Over the past year, we have seen a greater awareness of the effects of systemic injustices and how they influence health outcomes. I believe that health equity is a human right, regardless of your race, income, zip code, gender or age. Inequalities related to diabetes have been exacerbated by the pandemic. To promote diabetes research, education and resources for this vulnerable population, we announced earlier this year a one-year partnership with the American Diabetes Association.
The inequalities in health care “that plague the elderly – among our country’s most vulnerable population – must end,” says Kao. “To this end, we will continue our work to develop diverse and personalized health plans and services that address the social determinants of health that most affect older people, such as loneliness, food insecurity and access. to transport. We are also investing in the formalization of our ESG framework and in the identification of key indicators on which we can report regularly. “