The future of healthcare includes adapting to advances in technology, offering attractive and competitive benefits to employees, and providing innovative ways for patients to interact with clinicians and physicians.
To learn more, MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager spoke with Paul Bartosic, Vice President of the Connecticut market at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Dr. Prentiss Taylor, Vice President for Medical Affairs Doctor On Demand to find out how their companies’ partnership is providing advances in healthcare.
NAN PRICE: Tell us about the collaboration between Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Doctor On Demand.
PAUL BARTOSIC: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has had a long-standing relationship with Doctor On Demand as a telehealth partner, even well before the pandemic. Previously, the focus was much more on urgent care, but a year prior to the pandemic, we began to develop the frame work for creating innovative telehealth models to give our members access to virtual visits with primary care providers. This year, we rolled out two health plans, SimplyVirtual and Virtual Choice, whereby Doctor On Demand has the ability to act as a primary care physician for members enrolled in those virtual first products.
NAN: You mentioned the pandemic. How has that impacted telehealth?
PAUL: Early in the pandemic, we saw a 4,600% increase in the use of telehealth. We believe that now is a prime opportunity to introduce these types of plans into the market.
DR. PRENTISS TAYLOR: Telehealth is very important for people who have difficulty accessing care, whether it’s because they’re staying home during the pandemic or they’re simply trying to find time to make a doctor appointment. Many people find it off-putting that they have to schedule an appointment, then drive for some period of time, then sit in a waiting room, and then sit in an exam room.
I’m not saying any of this to devalue traditional medical care, which, as a physician, I highly value. However, understandably, those traditional appointments can be frustrating. So, the opportunity to have a highly trained clinician pop up on your mobile device, in the convenience of your kitchen, your bedroom, your car, or private place at work, is something a lot of people value.
NAN: What are some of the other benefits of Harvard Pilgrim’s partnership with Doctor On Demand?
PAUL: One advantage of partnering with Doctor On Demand that adds to the level of convenience and access for our members is that when a user logs into that application, they’re actually talking with a physician who is licensed in the state in which they’re located. So, for example, if you’re on vacation in Wyoming, when you log into Doctor On Demand you’re connected with a physician who is licensed in Wyoming and is able to prescribe medications in that state.
DR. TAYLOR: Doctor On Demand is available in all 50 states. Our software matches a member to a doctor licensed in whatever state they’re located, who is generally knowledgeable about local resources.
Also, when someone reaches out to us with an urgent or emergency situation, we’re often able to handle the situation so they don’t need to go to the emergency room for their concerns, which can be beneficial for everyone involved—from the injured person and family members to the healthcare provider.
PAUL: It’s important to note that while the vast majority of care can be delivered through the Doctor On Demand app, in situations where a member would need in-person care—for example X-rays and things of that nature—Doctor On Demand can refer into Harvard Pilgrim’s extensive provider network throughout New England.
NAN: Dr. Taylor, can you tell us more about Doctor on Demand’s clinicians?
DR. TAYLOR: We pride ourselves on being very selective about the clinicians we hire. We select physicians for their ability to listen, communicate, and for their empathetic nature
We also have a high level of diversity in our practice. Approximately 70% of our clinicians are women and 40% of are people of color. And, over the years we’ve recognized that those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community would prefer that their doctor come from that orientation, particularly in behavioral health. So, 20% of our behavioral health clinicians identify as LGBTQ+.
NAN: In addition to telehealth, what else is on the horizon for the future of healthcare?
DR. TAYLOR: One of the things that’s emerging is the opportunity for a chat-based coaching, which is something we’ve launched in certain locations. Also, in terms of the future, we’ll see more coaching offered to those with stress issues and behavior/mental health concerns who haven’t received a diagnosis of depression or anxiety and don’t require medication.
PAUL: Employee benefits are more and more critical as employers are trying to attract and retain their existing workforce, especially here in Connecticut. So, it’s becoming increasingly important that employers offer market competitive benefits to their employees. That trend will continue, if not even hasten, over the next several years. And we think that’s a good thing.
Join Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Doctor On Demand for a virtual discussion “Your Mental Health Matters: How to Prioritize Your Wellbeing” on Wednesday, November 17 at 12:00 p.m.
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