How Elevance Health is improving health outcomes through an integrated spectrum of care

The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving, transforming both patient experiences and healthcare delivery. It's essential to embrace an integrated spectrum of care, which encompasses in-person, digital, and virtual services to adapt to this changing landscape. This approach enables timely medical interventions, minimizes travel issues, ensures ongoing support, and ultimately results in better health outcomes.

In-Person Care: Constant and Crucial
In-person interactions, encompassing traditional face-to-face consultations, surgeries, and other treatments, have long been a foundation of healthcare. The value of in-person care remains undiminished, just as digital, and virtual care has become an option for many. In a recent study done by Elevance Health, in-person visits still make up most of the respondents' recent interactions with healthcare providers, especially if it’s a wellness visit (79%), specialist visit (66%), urgent care (62%), or a follow-up (56%). In-person care provides a level of personal connection and physical contact that can be important in diagnosis and treatment, forming an integral part of the spectrum.

Digital Care: Empowering Patients
Digital technologies are reshaping the healthcare landscape. Through digital care interactions, individuals can conveniently access virtual healthcare services and exchange health information with providers. Utilizing health apps, wearable devices, and telehealth equipment, individuals transition from being passive recipients of care to active participants in managing their health. They can monitor their health status, adhere better to treatment plans, and access relevant health information. 

More than 17 million individuals are using the Sydney Health Digital platform where they have access to digital care. Through this platform, users can tap into services and resources on their phone, computer, or other connected devices. It empowers affiliated health plan members with features like benefits and claims information, cost transparency and comparison tools, a search engine for providers and specialists, and more. Digital health not only holds the potential to reduce healthcare costs but also allows individuals to manage and monitor their health from the comfort of their homes, ultimately helping them lead healthier lives.

Virtual Care: Bridging Gaps
Virtual care has become an integral part of healthcare delivery, a change driven by advancements in technology. This shift is evident at Elevance Health, where virtual visits saw a 3% increase year over year, reaching over 800,000 visits in 2023 alone. Customer feedback further supports this shift, with four out of five people expressing satisfaction with virtual provider visits. By facilitating health consultations and basic care delivery via digital platforms, virtual care significantly extends healthcare reach. It proves particularly beneficial in addressing the hurdles of immobility, isolation, or inadequate local healthcare resources. A recent survey by Elevance Health underlines this fact, with 90% of consumers affirming that virtual care enables people who can't visit doctors in person to access care. Moreover, 81% agree that the inclusion of virtual care marks an improvement in the healthcare system.

Implementing the Integrated Care Spectrum
A seamless and connected system can enhance the care experience for both the patient and their provider. For instance, in some cases, doctors can instantly access data from digital health trackers during virtual or in-person consultations. This immediate data access allows for accurate health evaluations and customized care plans. Such a unified approach fosters improved patient outcomes and streamlines the healthcare process, reducing disjointed care experiences and ensuring a cohesive patient journey.

With Elevance Health's digital health platform, our virtual-first health plans can connect care data from various visits and providers throughout the healthcare system. In many cases, interoperability – or the ability to exchange data – allows care data to move between virtual first providers, in-person doctors, and specialists more seamlessly. This enhances the healthcare experience for consumers by reducing redundancies as consumers transition between different care settings and, when necessary, gives providers easier access to previous health information.

As we look to the future of healthcare, a hybrid model and integrated spectrum of care provide a solution to overcoming barriers and enhancing patient outcomes. By appropriately combining in-person, digital, and virtual care, we are creating a patient-centric, proactive, and inclusive healthcare model. Elevance Health persistently adapts and innovates each day to prioritize consumer needs, amplify digital and virtual healthcare engagement, and improve holistic care results.

Anil Bhatt is Global Chief Information Officer at Elevance Health

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