Oscar reports 32% rise in members' telehealth use
- One-fourth of Oscar Health’s members used telehealth services in 2017, up 32% from 17% the prior year, FierceHealthcare reports.
- In all, two-thirds of member encounters were virtual last year. The majority stemmed from secure messaging with Oscar’s Concierge team or Care Router. The latter, for example, offers members seeking care for an ailment the option of a virtual visit. Oscar providers and Concierge teams can then access that data.
- Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said the growth in telehealth use has increased overall utilization, but has also reduced costs for conditions like asthma, CNBC reports. He said the cost of a virtual asthma encounter is about $260, versus $946 for an in-office visit.
Use of telemedicine is growing by leaps and bounds. According to a recent Foley & Lardner survey, three-fourths of healthcare organizations offered or planned to offer virtual interactions in 2017. Of those with existing telehealth programs, more than half said they planned to expand their programs, including overseas.
Kaiser Permanent CEO Bernard Tyson told business leaders last year that virtual visits accounted for 52% of members’ physician encounters. Meanwhile, Medicare payments for telehealth rose 28% in 2016 from the previous year, due in part to an increase in providers offering remote services to their fee-for-service beneficiaries.
Five-year-old Oscar, which has focused on Affordable Care Act plans, has struggled financially. The company lost nearly $205 million in 2016, then posted a $57.6 loss in the first six months of 2017.
To strengthen its financials, the company has looked to other markets, including the small business market. It teamed up with Humana to offer commercial health insurance in central Tennessee and is partnering with Cleveland Clinic to offer a co-branded insurance plan to people in northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Clinic Oscar plans are available to consumers both on and off the Ohio ACA exchanges.