Corporate Insight

The Modern House Call: Assessing Telehealth Services for the Health Insurance Member

Posted on December 08, 2017

Consumers are increasingly demanding virtual provider visits and digital communications with providers via email, texting and video to address the immediacy and convenience provided by virtual healthcare services. Earlier this year in the wake of several natural disasters, many telehealth vendors experienced a dramatic increase in use rates and app downloads up to 554%. While telehealth has its shortcomings, specifically regarding hands-on care, the service does remove geographic and time constraints for individuals in need of immediate non-emergency services, like in rural or disaster-afflicted areas. Further, the growing need for mental health services has increased the role that telehealth plays in addressing rising suicide rates, the opioid crisis and other mental health issues. While telehealthcare will never overtake traditional healthcare, there is a shift as more health plans, hospitals and employers are making telehealth services available. The high demand for these services and their ability to address entrenched challenges highlight the importance of expanding capabilities for video visits, phone consultations and online correspondence on member sites and apps. In this Healthcare Monitor report, we assess the promotion, findability, usability and features of telehealth services.

Nine firms in the Healthcare Monitor coverage group offer access to telehealth services via their member sites. We detail six total in-house and third-party platforms in this report, including some overlap: four firms use Amwell as their telehealth platform, three use Dr. on Demand, one uses MDLive and one uses Teladoc. Overall, health plans promote telehealth services well within their member sites and better within their mobile apps, but the organization of all services within member site sections could improve. Though plans do provide general information on their telehealth services, we see less information detailing the coverage and costs associated with each service. Few firms excel at promoting their telehealth exclusive rates, a practice that can increase member loyalty and retention.