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Sponsored by: Anthem
October 10, 2023

The Benefits of Virtual First Health Plans

Dear Connecticut Business Community,

Digitally enabled healthcare is growing in use and availability because of the pandemic. Health plans are following suit by shifting from delivering care to empowering their members to be more proactive when it comes to their health.

To support members’ health, many of our plans now offer access to an array of digital health engagement tools, such as virtual first plans. While each plan boasts its own set of unique offerings, some plans include access to symptom checkers leveraging artificial intelligence, routine wellness care, chronic condition management, behavioral healthcare, and more.

As digital health technology continues to advance and the healthcare industry evolves, many people want the ability to use more digital methods, like virtual primary care offered by virtual first plans. Among people surveyed who have a primary care provider (PCP), two in five (41 percent) wish their provider used more digital forms of communication such as text messages and emails, and 71 percent would use a mobile texting app to chat with a PCP in real time if they had access to it.

Virtual healthcare is here to stay – and it’s an integral part of what consumers are looking for in a health plan. Offering a plan that integrates a digital health platform and virtual options helps give consumers the tools and functionality to be more actively involved in their health.

How virtual first plans benefit consumers

For consumers, virtual first plans enhance their care by offering access to benefits, cost transparency tools, and resources they need 24/7. According to a study conducted by the Harris Poll, convenience and accessibility are among the top traits that people like or find most appealing about virtual care. The ability to chat with a doctor from wherever they are (35 percent), 24/7 availability (31 percent), and the overall ease of use (30 percent) are also appealing.

Consumers are also looking for connected care. For example, through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut’s digital health platform, Anthem is working to ensure Anthem Link Virtual First health plans can connect care data from various visits and providers throughout the healthcare system. Interoperability – or the ability to exchange data – allows care data to move between virtual first providers, in-person doctors, and specialists more seamlessly. This helps enhance the healthcare experience for consumers by reducing redundancies as people go from one care setting to another and, as appropriate, giving providers easier access to previous health information.

How virtual first plans benefit employers

Employers are looking for network options and plan designs to meet their employees’ health goals as well as their business needs. Drawing on our local knowledge and experience, Anthem partners with its clients to build a deep understanding of the employer’s population needs and high-cost conditions so the networks and supporting programs they select will drive results. Virtual first plans help reduce barriers to care for employees, helping to boost productivity with reduced travel and wait time associated with care, bringing cost-of-care savings to employers. And when employees feel supported and confident in their healthcare coverage, they are more likely to take the necessary steps to protect their health, and thus more likely to be more productive.

Digital health is showing us that healthcare must become more simplified and personalized to advance good health. Better use of data, digital tools, and personalized solutions will guide us toward better health outcomes and lower costs for everyone. Our Anthem team here in Connecticut can show you how our health plans and digital tools can support better health.

In good health,
Lou Gianquinto,
President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut