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Telemedicine: The New Healthcare Reality

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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Prior to March 2020, telemedicine was a rarely used service. It wasn’t common to video chat with your doctor or receive medical care over the phone or via email. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more doctors are turning to telemedicine in order to stay engaged with patients and provide health care services.

According to Grand View Research, telemedicine is not just a pandemic fad, with an annual growth rate of 22.4% and a projected market value of $298.9 billion by 2028. This research is an indication that telemedicine is here to stay, becoming a pillar of how care is delivered, and what types of care are now covered by insurance companies.

Beyond its convenience for many, simple care interactions are uniquely supportive of vulnerable populations, like Medicare and Medicaid members because it supports:

    • Patients who don’t have the flexibility to take time from work to visit the doctor
    • Patients with transportation challenges, or those who may not feel comfortable on public transit during the pandemic
    • Patients who are immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable to infection in an office setting
    • More consistent monitoring of chronic disease
    • A more affordable and convenient option for healthcare
    • Patients who need to access healthcare from anywhere

Telemedicine and Medicaid and Medicare populations

Telemedicine offers Medicaid and Medicare members opportunities to access healthcare in an alternative setting. For some members, telemedicine suits their lifestyle, providing more flexibility, rather than needing to conform to the limited hours of healthcare offices. On a broader scale, telemedicine provides an alternative that allows more members to access care, whether in person or through technology.

The health care system’s changing infrastructure is supporting telemedicine, both from a provider and insurance standpoint. For Accountable Care Organizations and Payers, telemedicine presents a new opportunity to further drive member adoption and also drive member accountability for their own care.

Telemedicine provides a safe way for members to establish rapport and relationships with their providers, without the fear and anxiety that many face when visiting the doctor. Since telemedicine doesn’t allow providers to run tests, check levels or draw blood, it provides a unique opportunity for patients to get comfortable with their doctors, making them more likely to return to a doctor in person as needed for care.

How gift cards can support telemedicine care initiatives

So how do incentives fit into the telemedicine conversation? Incentives, specifically small denomination gift cards, provide an even more compelling opportunity for Accountable Care Organizations and Payers to drive telemedicine adoption by providing a gift card to members as they complete preventative care appointments online. These incentives help build a positive connotation with health care for members and help support the foundation of a healthy lifestyle by providing gift cards with healthy brands like CVS® and Home Chef.

Building telemedicine adoption programs to encourage members will ultimately lead to better health care engagement and healthier Medicaid and Medicare. Small-denomination incentives like gift cards are designed to accelerate that adjustment.

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Topics: Digital Health

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