The AHIP Institute and Expo went completely virtual this year. Health plan executives from across the country participated in panel discussions, browsed virtual exhibit halls, and connected in digital lounges. While topics covered a myriad of current issues in the healthcare industry, the impact of COVID-19 was front and center.
COVID-19 takes over
As millions have lost their jobs, resulting in jeopardizing their employer-sponsored health insurance, COVID-19 has highlighted the need for improved access to care and a healthcare safety net to ensure adequate coverage for everyone, especially during a pandemic.
The impact of sustained unemployment on health plans has yet to be fully realized. Employer health plans may be permanently changed as more employees seek care through the ACA marketplace instead of COBRA. Health plans across the board must consider ways to help members navigate the complex system and reevaluate their benefit design and programs to make healthcare more accessible overall.
Presenters also discussed health equity with an emphasis on prevention. Social determinants of health and disparities among more vulnerable populations must be scrutinized closely to achieve equitable care for all.
The pandemic has demonstrated how the private and public sectors can mobilize quickly and work together to spur innovation, provide necessary funding, and initiate community outreach. There is hope that these partnerships will continue in the post-COVID-19 world to create a better experience for patients, build trust, close gaps in care, and drive better outcomes.
Access to care must start at the local level and is moving in that direction already. Consumers are seeking a holistic approach to healthcare that is local, convenient, and easy to understand. In addition to states making healthcare more accessible, every aspect of the healthcare industry must work in harmony to identify solutions and provide seamless, meaningful care.
Increase in telehealth adoption leading a push for continued use in a post-pandemic world
With the rise of telemedicine, digital health solutions, and emerging technologies, COVID-19 completely transformed how patients connect with their providers. In the wake of COVID-19, government officials and health plans quickly expanded access to telehealth through relaxed regulations, waived fees, adapted reimbursement policies, and more. The pandemic has showcased the importance of staying connected and having alternative care solutions readily available.
Virtual care not only slowed the spread of coronavirus by keeping people out of waiting rooms, but it opened the door for safer, more convenient ways to deliver care. Now, nearly half of the physicians in the country are using telehealth.
In addition to increased adoption across the board—presenters confirmed more than 200 million telehealth visits during COVID-19 already—there has been an industry push for continued telehealth use in a post-pandemic world.
Congress added telemedicine as a basic benefit to Medicare Advantage and secured fee-for-service payment models for substance abuse treatment. Many policymakers are pushing for mental health coverage as well. Industry leaders hope that more states coordinate with each other and create continuous licensure to ensure consistent quality of care.
Health plans were able to quickly expand their virtual care services, at a time of unprecedented demand. Moving forward, payers are essential for making telehealth a regular part of medical care and should remain focused on curating offerings by benefit design.
To learn more, read our blog, Telehealth is here to stay, healthcare industry sees immense value in virtual care.
Data-sharing for better outcomes
The value of analytics within healthcare is ever-present and more important than ever, COVID-19 has emphasized the need for confidential information sharing.
Several topics at AHIP explored the use of data in value-based care and how greater interoperability and access to information will help the healthcare community achieve better care at a lower cost. Using data to deliver treatment when needed has proven to be cost-effective, efficient, and create better patient outcomes.
Value-based care programs encourage patient-centric care coordination that enables providers to view and share real-time data. Panelists agreed that sharing critical information will drive positive change and improve healthcare. However, many noted current challenges hinder payers and providers from developing improved care management models. Data standardization and access to information are key to ensuring care coordination is possible, but to promote interoperability, the industry needs common standards.
Healthcare must move away from siloed systems and operate in a common ecosystem that drives value, equity, and access. Providers and payers must work together to align incentives and create more extensive value-based arrangements. Patient-centric care management will lead to improved patient satisfaction and healthier communities.
HealthEdge customers have the flexibility to address ongoing changes as healthcare evolves. We will continue to track key developments, their potential impacts on the healthcare environment, and work closely with health plans to adapt, create new opportunities, and improve care.
Not able to at this year’s Institute? We’ve got you covered! You can visit our AHIP Silver Sponsor Booth through December 1, 2020.
Schedule a 15-minute introductory call to discuss your business opportunities and challenges.
For more information, call: 781.285.1300 and ask to speak to Janet Barros.