Where CEOs should focus during the return of the house call

As virtual care continues to gain momentum, healthcare leaders have unique opportunities to impact outcomes

In our country’s early days, doctors on horseback visited patients in their homes, offering a personal touch that was later sidelined as healthcare facilities changed the delivery model. Now that the delivery model is changing again — moving away from centralizing care delivery at a hospital or doctor’s office — could we use technology to go full circle?

At the onset of COVID-19, both patients and providers flocked to telemedicine platforms at unprecedented rates, and we witnessed an overall 20x increase in telehealth visits in just a few short weeks1. Just as quickly, the term telehealth expanded to virtual care — which now encompasses all the ways patients and providers are using digital tools to communicate in real time. Accessing care this way is the new normal, for now, but healthcare has a way to go in order to make high-quality, personalized care available to everyone — no matter where they are.

Now, more than ever, healthcare leaders are focused on providing consumers with the best digital front-door experiences, while balancing the added administrative burden that falls on care teams across a system, including training, working out reimbursements, EHR integration, and beyond. At the same time, consumer demands are growing and patient needs are changing. While many consumers report their first virtual care experience during the pandemic, 74% of those users shared positive feedback and satisfaction with their experiences2.

“We’re going to take all the data that’s available, not just health data, but environmental data and research data and use machine learning to come up with a very personalized treatment for preventative plans for patients. And in the future we’re going to deliver that virtually.”

Kevin Mahoney, University of Pennsylvania Health System

In an era of search engines, content sharing, and video tutorials, consumers are eager for a personal and empowering way to connect with their health, too. Factoring in telehealth’s watershed moment, consumer behavior trends and population trends, the return of the house call presents a few key opportunities to respond to growing population health needs and is poised to make great strides for healthcare.

Getting up close and personal with SDOH

When we talk about “personalizing care,” we should be talking about more than health data, alone, to better tailor treatments to individual patients. Increasingly, payors and providers alike are uncovering the link between social determinants of health (SDOH) and health outcomes. “We’re going to take all the data that’s available, not just health data, but environmental data and research data and use machine learning to come up with a very personalized treatment for preventative plans for patients. And in the future we’re going to deliver that virtually,” said Kevin Mahoney, CEO of University of Pennsylvania Health System during our recent Executive Briefing. He went on to talk about the potential to aggregate and understand this data and couple it with the power of machine learning to develop very personalized, preventive plans for patients.

When healthcare systems can offer care within a patient’s own home, enabled by technology, that feels as personal as a visit from a doctor. And it’s not just the feeling of a personal touch, it’s helpful in collecting more information on how a person is living day to day. Providers now have greater potential to begin to assess health risks in and around the home like unsafe living conditions, access to technology, smoking, medication and dietary issues.

Caring for our senior population

As 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, our need to support and care for our seniors is growing rapidly. With our senior population at 55 million and counting in the United States, comes more chronic illnesses and healthcare needs over time3. In recent surveys of our senior population, nine in 10 seniors said they would prefer to stay in their current homes over the next 10 years. CMS has already responded to some of these collective trends with house calls through their Independence at Home Demonstration. In the second year of the program, Medicare saved more than $10 million. All factors suggest that healthcare leaders should be thinking about the home as the new frontier of healthy aging and care for millions.

Supporting those who care for our care recipients

Understanding that no one wants to go through their care journey alone, we have an opportunity to bring forth more resources and support for the people who support our care recipients. Today, more than 50 million Americans provide unpaid care, and that number is expected to grow as the prevalence of chronic illness and aging is on the rise.

Quil recently partnered with AmeriHealth Caritas to offer its members’ informal caregivers supportive and empowering resources and tools throughout their health journeys. AmeriHealth Caritas Chairman and CEO Paul Tufano said, “Caregivers are on the front-line for our members. Our goal is to be the trusted resource for our members’ caregivers, one that can give them guidance, training, and compassion and, ultimately, connect what they are doing to the overall care management plan for our members. By providing our members’ informal caregivers access to Quil’s informative and engaging content, we are helping them better serve those in their care, ultimately helping to improve life outcomes as members journey towards maximum independence.”

By making the home a more prominent place for care, we can begin to enable the sometimes difficult but necessary conversations about health for people surrounded by those they love — their caregiving circle.

Visit Health Evolution here.

2 McKinsey

About Quil

Quil, a digital health company, delivers actionable and personalized health itineraries for patients and caregivers, answering the question “What Happens Next?” in their healthcare journeys. Quil is a joint venture of Independence Blue Cross and Comcast. We combine the powers of precision data, state-of-the-art technology, and security with unparalleled consumer reach to help individuals navigate today’s chaotic healthcare landscape. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA with additional offices in New York City, Quil serves individuals, healthcare providers, and payors nationally.