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Advances in consumer-centric healthcare technologies improve access and satisfaction while alleviating burden on primary care

These new technologies also allow primary care offices to deepen their relationships with their patients and provide a fuller spectrum of care.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

New technological approaches, combined with the drive to move care to lower-cost settings, are enabling new care models that better meet patient needs and still allow providers to maintain a central role in defining patient care. These broader changes mean that primary care providers and practices will need to do more to engage patients, maintain and improve patient health status, and improve the patient experience.

The latest report from industry analyst firm Chilmark Research, Primary Care for the 21st Century: Technology-Enabled and On Demand, examines three new types of solutions that contribute to or complement the modern technology-enabled primary care practice: telehealth; virtual care and remote care platforms (including behavioral health); and AI-enabled assistants, symptom checkers and chatbots.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

These new methods of delivering technology-enabled primary care offer novel ways for patients to access care directly, for providers to gain greater visibility into the patient's life and experience, and for both sides of the care loop to communicate, the report found.

If primary care barriers to access, burden and costs are not addressed, patients will likely continue to move toward solutions that offer convenience but don't help with long-term care and needs, such as retail and urgent health clinics. These technology solutions offer ways to not just improve care, but to support value-based payment models that will soon be the norm.

What the new technological developments allow, the report found, is for the primary care office to engage with patients in different ways and expand their relationship, as well as provide avenues for continuing to deliver care in patients' homes and throughout their lives.

These solutions positively affect barriers to access, burden, and costs for both providers and patients, the report found.

THE LARGER TREND

Telehealth in particular has been exploding in popularity as of late. From 2016 to 2017, private insurance claim lines for services rendered via telehealth -- as a percentage of all medical claim lines -- grew 53% nationally, more than any other venue of care, according to FH Health Indicators, a white paper published in April by the nonprofit FAIR Health.

Meanwhile, from 2014 to 2018, private insurance claim lines for non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth grew 1,393%. This was a greater increase than for all other types of telehealth studied, and for telehealth overall, and the increase was greater in urban than rural areas. Claim lines for non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth increased 1,227% in urban areas, and 897% in rural areas.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com