PRESS RELEASE

Study: Stakeholders Agree Integration of Virtual Health Crucial to Improving Patient Outcomes, Addressing Affordability

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct 18, 2022For virtual health to be of optimal benefit to employees and their families, all stakeholders should pursue the integration of virtual and in-person care, a new study from Business Group on Health and Sage Growth Partners has found.

Otherwise, virtual health, and health care in general, will become increasingly fragmented, complex and more costly for all those involved, said the study, an analysis of four distinct groups of stakeholders: large employers, benefit consultants, vendors and investors.

The qualitative in-depth study makes a series of holistic recommendations to ensure that virtual health is deployed in a deliberate and coordinated way.

Almost $67 billion was invested in virtual health startups between 2017 and 20211, which has led to the creation of thousands of virtual health solutions.

“Virtual health has shown tremendous promise, especially during the pandemic,” said Ellen Kelsay, Business Group on Health president and CEO. “However, it needs to be rationalized, demonstrate improved outcomes and be integrated with other health care services, including in-person care.”

Kelsay added, “Employers are seeking partnerships and accountability with other stakeholders to ensure that future virtual health solutions are effective and result in improved patient outcomes.”

Dan D’Orazio, chief executive officer of Sage Growth Partners, said, “Our study demonstrates that a rigorous, purposeful evaluation of virtual health – in combination with creative partnerships among stakeholders – will begin to deliver success. Virtual health has a place in reducing the total cost of care while improving patients’ health, a complex challenge that requires multifaceted solutions. Without true, cross-party collaboration, the impact will be suboptimal.”

The study recommended specific actions for all stakeholders, to fulfill the promise of virtual health. These include:

  • Ensure that virtual health solutions enhance traditional care pathways;
  • Establish and follow a basic framework to understand patients’ needs and desires concerning virtual health;
  • Monitor consumer experience with virtual health from the user interface to navigation and support across the care continuum;
  • As virtual health expands health care access, work to ensure that it is accessible for all;
  • Communicate to patients in plain language about real health care challenges and how virtual health can solve them;
  • Build continual outcomes measurement into solutions;
  • Design and build virtual health solutions to promote integration;
  • Form partnerships to optimize different areas of expertise;
  • Employers, along with their consultants, can form a collective voice to ensure that their employees’ needs are being addressed, as patients, within virtual health; and
  • All parties should be intentional when developing, offering and funding virtual health.

Thirty-nine participants were asked a series of questions in April and May 2022 about such themes as: the role of virtual health in an employer’s health and benefits ecosystem, and in the health care system overall; the ability of virtual health to impact health care costs; quality measurement and reporting best practices; and the future of virtual health.

To learn more, view the study’s executive summary.

About Business Group on Health

Business Group on Health is the leading non-profit organization representing large employers’ perspectives on optimizing workforce strategy through innovative health, benefits and wellbeing solutions and on health policy issues. The Business Group keeps its membership informed of leading-edge thinking and action on health care cost and delivery, financing, affordability and experience with the health care system. Business Group members include 72 Fortune 100 companies as well as large public-sector employers, who collectively provide health and wellbeing programs for more than 60 million individuals in 200 countries. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

About Sage Growth Partners

Sage Growth Partners accelerates commercial success for B2B, B2B2C, and B2C healthcare organizations through a singular focus on growth. The company helps its clients thrive amid the complexities of a rapidly changing marketplace with deep domain expertise and an integrated application of research, strategy, and marketing. Founded in 2005, Sage Growth Partners is located in Baltimore, MD, and serves clients such as the National Minority Health Association, Progeny Health, Philips Healthcare, Vocera, Livongo, and iN2L + LifeLoop. For more information visit sage-growth.com.

1 Calculation based on: “2021 year-end digital health funding: Seismic shifts beneath the surface,” Rock Health, Jan. 10, 2022