‘Patients are expecting this type of health care’
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Spectrum Health took a chance on telehealth four years ago and is seeing the payoff today with a more than 200% year-over-year growth in usage and $4 million in cost savings.
“2014 was still pretty early for telehealth, but now we’re just at the point where this is becoming more and more how people behave,” said Joseph Brennan, senior director of Spectrum Health’s MedNow telehealth program. “Patients are expecting this type of health care.”
The MedNow program offers both a direct-to-consumer, low acuity primary care platform and a specialty provider platform. Patients access the platforms through any mobile device or computer to have a conversation with a medical professional through a video visit or online message.
Spectrum Health’s digital health strategy also offers a patient portal where consumers can find a doctor, schedule appointments and use a cost estimator.
“We are giving patients a digital ecosystem to handle their health like they handle all the other aspects of their lives,” said Brennan.
The MedNow direct to consumer platform has been used by more than 55,000 patients to date and has saved an average of $123 per patient, said Brennan. The entire program recently hit the “million mile mark” in total driving miles saved by consumers who use telehealth.
“When you combine those costs with avoided transfers in specialty care, we’ve saved payers over $4 million in four years,” he said.
Spectrum Health, a network of hospitals and care facilities spanning 13 counties throughout West Michigan, plans to build on the success of the MedNow low-acuity platform by expanding it to include behavioral health conditions like stress, anxiety and depression, and eventually all conditions.
“We are looking at blending the specialty and direct-to-consumer platforms so patients just receive care when and where it’s convenient, regardless of the provider,” Brennan said. “For us, it’s just inevitable this this is how it’s going to be.”