Optima, MDLive explore how telemedicine can help improve quality measures

Optima Health will be the first to deploy the CareLink system.
By Jonah Comstock
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Yesterday, Optima Health, the health plan division of Virginia integrated delivery system Sentara Healthcare, launched the first rollout of CareLink, a collaboration with MDLive to use telehealth to improve population health and quality measure scores.

"The way the workflow goes is that we identify members who have gaps on certain quality metrics," Dr. Sam Basta, Optima Health's senior director of clinical care integration, told MobiHealthNews. "And for those quality measures where a virtual visit with an MDLive doctor can help close that gap, our population health team will reach out to the member and discuss the reason that we are offering them that interaction with MDLive.

"If they agree to it, then we will schedule that appointment with MDLive and at the designated time the MDLive provider will give them a call and have a conversation, whether it is educating the member about certain healthcare interventions that they need to receive or whether it’s documenting certain piece of clinical information that needs to be documented. Whatever it is, the provider will provide that and help us at the health plan close that quality gap."

Optima has worked with MDLive to design the product, Basta said, which can be accessed through MDLive's Care Connector Portal.

WHY IT MATTERS

Health plans partnering with telemedicine companies to offer virtual visits to their members is nothing new; in fact, Optima and MDLive's partnership isn't even new. But CareLink shows a new way of using telemedicine that could be very attractive to health plans, which depend on clinical quality metrics like HEDIS scores and Star Ratings for their reimbursement.

"Our health plan has had the MDLive service as a benefit to our members for years now," Basta said. "They could access them for acute problems or urgent care: a sore throat, a sinus infection, a urinary tract infection, and so on and so forth. But the new thing we’ve thought about is 'Can we apply this same technology and these same resources to also closing quality gaps and improving our performance on quality measures?'"

Optima considers the program to be a pilot and will be evaluating the changes in quality scores once it has been rolled out.

WHAT'S THE TREND

This is the second big rollout for MDLive this year. In February, the company launched an asynchronous virtual care service called MDLive Go that lets patients describe their condition through a text-based assessment and receive an emailed treatment plan within two hours. The product collects, organizes and documents the results of a condition-specific assessment provided to patients and delivers them to a MDLive-trained provider, who uses the results to build an appropriate treatment plan for the patient and electronically prescribe any necessary medication.

ON THE RECORD

“Improved patient outcomes, increased member engagement and lower overall healthcare costs are clear advantages that MDLive’s CareLink can deliver to both health plans and health systems,” Rich Berner, CEO of MDLive, said in a statement. “Telehealth is the future of healthcare and provides benefits to patients, healthcare providers and plans that traditional office-based models cannot offer alone. We are pleased that Optima Health is taking advantage of our extensive online provider network and innovative telehealth platform, and we look forward to rolling out this initiative with other health plans and systems this year throughout the US.”

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