What They’re Watching: Chris Daher, Beacon Health Options

Chris Daher is the Vice President of Network Strategy at Beacon Health Options. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss telehealth.

 

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“The biggest challenge we have is access to care. There’s just not enough providers in California — I think that’s kind of standard, everybody knows that. So, one of the things that we’re doing is we’re leveraging telehealth. We’re leveraging the providers that we do have to be able to service all the different counties, particularly in Northern California, that just don’t have access to care.

Right now, there’s long appointment times. It takes 3 to 4 weeks for people to get services. But by using telehealth, we’re having physicians that are doing live videoconferencing and so those patients can get in within like 2 to 3 days. So, it’s a lot quicker access to care and we’ve seen really high member satisfaction scores — up to 95 percent. Ninety-five percent said that they thought their telehealth session was just as good as their face-to-face session. Ninety-six percent said they would use telehealth again. So, we’ve seen really high member satisfaction, they get engaged, it’s a lot easier for them to access care, they don’t have to travel to appointments, and they can do it from wherever they want to. They can do it from their office, they can do it from their home, any other place of their choosing. So, it makes it a lot easier and more convenient. And as telehealth has advanced, the provider can actually send them a link and then they just open up a link so it’s super easy for them to use. It’s not a complicated application; it’s not a complicated, you know, way of getting in. So, we find that even our Medi-Cal clients really enjoy and use it, and that’s really what we’ve seen.

In the last year, when we started in 2015, we had about 3,000 people that used telehealth and those were all Medi-Cal clients. But this year we’ve had 17,000, and by the end of the year we think that’ll be 23,000 people that have actually engaged and done either medication management or therapy. We’re responsible mainly for the mild to moderate population. So, it’s not necessarily for the severe. But one thing that you can do is you can use telehealth to kind of increase your HEDIS measures. So, when there’s people that are discharged from an inpatient unit, we can make those follow-up, after hospitalization appointments within 7 or 30 days and it’s a good way to bridge that gap. And by getting them involved and doing those appointments, it kind of lowers the rate of readmission.”