Return on Health: Moving Beyond Dollars and Cents in Realizing the Value of Virtual Care

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and the adoption of innovative technologies, the U.S. health care system is transitioning to a new era of digitally enabled care characterized by delivery models that fully integrate in-person care and virtual care. Yet the full spectrum of benefits generated by virtual care is often misunderstood due to the lack of a comprehensive value framework.

In a new white paper, the American Medical Association (AMA) and Manatt Health reenvision the way we assess the total range of benefits that virtual care generates. The white paper proposes a new framework to better understand the comprehensive value of digitally enabled care models as decisions are made that will establish the future role of virtual care. The framework accounts for the various ways in which virtual care programs may increase the overall “return on health” by generating positive impacts for patients, clinicians, payers and society going forward.

To move beyond dollars and cents in realizing the value of virtual care, Return on Health envisions framing the benefits of virtual care according to seven value streams: clinical outcome, quality and safety, access to care, patient and family experience, clinician experience, financial and operational impact, and health equity. It also incorporates environmental variables that impact the seven value streams: practice type, payment arrangements, patient population, clinical use case and virtual care modality. These environmental variables provide flexibility to the framework and acknowledge that different health care organizations will have different clinical, business or infrastructure demands that fundamentally shape their approach to virtual care.

To help showcase use cases of the framework, the white paper offers real-world and illustrative case studies featuring early adopters of the digitally enabled hybrid model that demonstrate how the framework is being used today. The real-world case study participants include VCU Health, Cityblock, Massachusetts General Hospital and Ochsner Health. The paper also highlights opportunities for more health care stakeholders to realize the full potential of digitally enabled care in the future.

To read the full white paper, click here.

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