Health Evolution | December 9, 2021
Editor’s note: This interview is excerpted from the virtual Executive Briefing The new model of whole-person virtual care: A conversation with Teladoc Health CEO Jason Gorevic. Watch the full video.
Jason Gorevic has been the CEO of Teladoc Health since 2009. In that time since, Teladoc Health has expanded to enable millions of virtual visits in some 175 countries around the world every year.
Prior to Teladoc Health, he served in executive leadership roles at Oxford Health Plans, Empire BlueCross BlueShield and WellPoint, which was acquired by Anthem.
Health Evolution interviewed Gorevic about the core elements of whole-person virtual care, the role it will play in primary care, the interconnection between virtual-first strategies and benefits design, and more.
What’s been working thus far and how can executives build on that for the future?
Gorevic: Especially over the last couple of years, I would say what’s been working well includes digital chronic care solutions, virtual mental health care, virtual telemedicine, traditional telemedicine. They’ve been proven effective in improving outcomes and health status and also in reducing costs. I think the next evolution of that is integrating all of those components into what we call whole-person care, which is really taking care of the consumer and all of their health care needs in a single consumer experience. Whole-person care leverages virtual assets as well as human intervention in a holistic manner that takes care of people physically as well as mentally for everything from episodic acute care all the way through to chronic and complex care. That’s really where we see the market going, where we see our clients being interested and, quite frankly, where consumer expectations are at this point.
What are the core elements of whole-person care?
Gorevic: What we see is a single point of entry to a vast array of clinical solutions ranging from virtual cognitive behavioral therapy to digital chronic condition management. These solutions may leverage connected devices being powered by underlying data. The consumer can interact with these solutions and the devices on their terms to receive virtual care from a trained professional.
Then there is an entire care team of MD-level, generalists or specialists, combined with other clinicians ranging from nurse practitioners to psychologists and master’s level social workers, all operating together. A stepped care model that is consumer friendly, more efficient and more clinically effective, supports the consumer’s unique healthcare needs.
Jason Gorevic, Teladoc Health
What challenges should CEOs anticipate as they transition toward whole-person virtual care?
Gorevic: The market has been littered with point solutions and health care CEOs have unfortunately been saddled with facilitating the integration across these different point solutions. One of the concerns I have is that a disparate set of point solutions doesn’t have the power of a truly integrated whole-person approach. We should all have higher expectations than what has been delivered by point solutions alone in the past. Shifting the strategy and increasing your expectations as a CEO in terms of what yield you can get from a truly integrated whole-person approach is important. We work with our clients to make sure that they understand the opportunity, the power of whole-person care and the value of solutions deployed in unison. We help them shift away from some of those point solutions that are sitting in isolation, because they’re not really getting the yield out of those programs. That means leaning into a holistic approach which uses whole-person care as part of an overall benefit design and clinical strategy in a way that integrates with the physical delivery system to deliver the optimal overall experience for the consumer. That optimal experience is not just virtual and not just physical but, rather, captures the best of a virtual environment and integrates seamlessly with the best parts of the physical delivery system.
One of the areas where telehealth and virtual visit utilization spiked in 2020-2021 is primary care. What role will whole-person virtual care assume within primary care?
Gorevic: Primary care is critical. The data is conclusive that when consumers have a strong primary care relationship and have someone acting as a quarterback for their health care, their costs are up to a third less than for those who don’t have a primary care relationship. Yet most adults between 18 and 49 don’t have a primary care relationship or haven’t seen a primary care physician recently. We see that there’s a big gap and an opportunity there to bring primary care to the consumer on their terms. It’s time to re-imagine what primary care looks and feels like to the consumer and to increase the velocity and frequency of interaction with a virtual primary care system that seamlessly leverages the underlying data to make that right referral the first time.
You mentioned benefit design. What should CEOs understand about the big picture interconnection between virtual first strategies and benefit design?
Gorevic: Benefit design is critical. We know that financial incentives for consumers really do drive behavior change. We’ve recently rolled out or announced products with both Aetna and with Centene, new offerings for large, self-insured clients and for fully insured plans on the exchanges. The common thread is maybe two things. One is that they’re centered around our Primary360 virtual primary care product. And number two, they have virtual-first benefit designs. Virtual first benefit design incents the consumer to have a virtual primary care relationship and to have a virtual visit be their first entry point into the health care system when they need care. That means zero copays for virtual visits. It means waived copays when someone has a virtual visit and they’re directed into the emergency department because they really need to be seen in person in an emergent setting. It means both mental health care and physical health care have richer benefits when they’re virtual. All of this is because the plans have recognized that we can improve health outcomes and reduce costs. If we get consumers to embrace virtual care as their first stop, their first entry point into the health care system, we can have the best care, the best course of action from the very beginning, as opposed to catching them downstream after they’ve wandered through the health care system without really getting better over a long period of time.
Watch the full interview to learn about Gorevic’s perspectives on the role of data science, how Teladoc uses data on a global scale, the ways whole-person virtual care will evolve in health systems, striking a balance between partnering with health systems and being viewed as a competitor, and where he envisions the world will be 3-5 years into the future.