Telemedicine is not just for providers. Healthcare payers are adopting telemedicine as well. Companies such as Aetna, Wellpoint, Highmark, and Cigna are partnering with telemedicine companies to provide real time consultations for their members.
Data supporting the value of telemedicine continues to mount. In an example provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC,) telemedicine services eliminated the need for patients to make the 2 hour trip between one of their rural facilities and the main campus. Over a four year period patients saved an estimated $25,000 in travel time, lost wages, and expenses. During the same period UPMC accrued $32,000 in revenue.
It’s no wonder that payers are now climbing on board. Telemedicine offers new ways to efficiently deliver services while keeping everyone’s costs down. The population living outside of major metropolitan areas can easily access services that previously required costly trips to the provider. The ability to remotely treat conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic respiratory problems is extremely attractive to healthcare payers as they look for ways to further control costs and improve outcomes.
I have no doubt that we will soon see healthcare payers incorporating telemedicine and video collaboration services into their member services. It is not difficult to imagine how video conferencing can be used to enhance existing member programs such as advice nurse and healthcare concierge services. Telemedicine video collaboration can make these programs more effective by making interaction between the patient or member and the healthcare professional more engaging.
Payers have a major advantage over most healthcare providers in the race towards telemedicine adoption because of their investment in Contact Centers. Their facilities can be enhanced with products such as Scopia and technologies such as WebRTC to easily accommodate video collaboration. As a result, it may not be long before we see telemedicine targeted not only at the rural community, but also as a benefit for members regardless of their location. Telemedicine is not just for providers. Payers are adopting telemedicine as well.