Health Systems’ Integrated Virtual Clinics Improve Care Quality

In an article for Health IT Outcomes, Christine Kern explains how commercial telemedicine providers fall short in key quality measures—while integrated telemedicine services provide better continuity of care and meet the highest quality care delivery benchmarks.

Kern’s claims are supported by a number of sources, including a study from McKesson Ventures portfolio company Carena. The Carena study revealed that patients also receive more time with clinicians and have lower prescription rates when using integrated telemedicine services versus commercial telemedicine providers.

A supporting infographic from Carena, “3 Ways Integrated Virtual Clinics Are Improving Care Quality,” visually demonstrates the three major ways health systems with integrated virtual clinics outperform commercial telemedicine providers:

  1. No more treat and churn
  2. Virtual clinics defy “pill mill” trend
  3. Improved continuity of care

“Virtual care is a natural use of technology to extend the availability of care from health systems that patients know and trust,” said Ralph Derrickson, president and CEO of Carena, Inc. “The data shows, virtual care, when offered as part of an integrated delivery system, can improve quality and reduce fragmentation.”

In her article, Kern explores some of the key details from Carena’s findings, including an astounding difference in the percentage of patients prescribed antibiotics for common afflictions, such as the common cold—56% in commercial telemedicine settings versus 37% in integrated virtual clinics.

The performance of integrated virtual clinics over commercial telemedicine services indicates a better overall experience for patients. “A longer visit means a better understanding of the patient’s needs and better care outcomes,” said Dr. Robert Bernstein, MD, MPH, VP of clinical affairs for Carena. “While a large part of telemedicine is about convenience and immediacy, it’s crucial to slow down and give patients proper, thoughtful attention.”

Kern’s article originally appeared in Health IT Outcomes.