New Payer-Technology Partnerships Could Be Telehealth’s Future

The healthcare industry is continually looking for novel ways to cut healthcare costs, and telehealth keeps coming up as a strategy of interest. Numerous studies have shown that implementing telehealth can help curb unnecessary doctor visits and lower costs. However, because of regulations, reimbursement, and lack of patient education about the benefits, the telehealth market hasn’t grown as expected.

Enter American Well, one company that’s betting they can expand their market share by adding telehealth kiosks in offices and workplaces.

The company has launched comprehensive telehealth kiosks at three Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offices. These top-of-the-line kiosks include video conference capabilities and tools to measure common health indicators such as blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, weight, and temperature. American Well and Blue Cross hope the telehealth kiosks will help employees to easily make use of their covered telehealth benefits.

American Well hopes to develop similar partnerships with community health centers, retailers, and other businesses to create temporary telehealth offices in stores around the country.

“Telehealth should improve access to care, reduce the costs associated with care, and improve the quality of outcomes for patients,” said Neha Sachdeva, an advisory director at KPMG. “But even though the market has expanded in the past few years, it’s been difficult to educate consumers that this is an option that is available—and it is an option that can be both cost-effective and convenient for users.”

This is why health plans and technology companies are interested in putting telehealth kiosks in places where consumers are likely to frequent. This could not only help to promote the services but make consumers more aware that telehealth is an option for them—one that is covered by their health plan.

One large retailer has already contracted to bring an American Well kiosk into the workplace, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and other companies are interested in doing so.

“We’re starting to see consumerism drive the shape of telehealth in healthcare. Being focused on the patient experience, meeting patients where they are at, so to speak, to meet patient demands and needs will be increasingly important,” said Sachdeva.

And when telehealth becomes popular, American Well is setting itself up to be a leader in the sector.

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