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Paduda: Concentra's Telemedicine Move, Part 2

By Joe Paduda

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 755 | 0 | min read

On Friday, Managed Care Matters' Joe Paduda published Part 1 of his conversation with Concentra Chief Executive Keith Newton about the company's telemedicine initiative in workers' compensation. Here is the second part of the interview.

Joe Paduda

Joe Paduda

Paduda: How has the market reacted to the launch of telemedicine?

Newton: Early adopters are coming onboard. Like other new services in work comp, everyone wants it, then there’s a bit of a lag after initial launch (as the more cautious wait to see what happens). Most of big players — third-party administrators and insurers — are (looking at or considering) coming onboard. It is much easier to adopt (internet-based medical “visits”) if it is as familiar as possible to all users. Adoption will be faster if there’s less disruption to the normal medical process.

Paduda: How will Concentra charge for this service?

Newton: There will be no change to reimbursement. It is based on normal fees for office visits. Payers will see savings in efficiency, and time savings for employer. (There may be) other savings from lower ancillary costs from lower utilization.

Paduda: Talk about licensure and regulatory compliance. There’s a lot of movement towards telemedicine in many states, and it seems a lot of confusion about what is allowed, what entity regulates telemedicine, fees, etc.

Newton: There have been some licensure and certification challenges. We have five coordinators doing intake for four full-time doctors dedicated to this to begin — two in California, one in Maryland, one in Nevada. One example is we have a Maryland physician driving to one of our Washington, D.C., centers to do their telemedicine work from there. (We’ve done) lots of regulatory compliance work.

State regulations aren’t keeping up with changes in telemedicine. We evaluated this on a state-by-state basis. Every legislative branch has something going on with telemedicine.

Paduda: Is this partially a defensive strategy to protect Concentra’s occupational medicine business?

Newton: We’ve got to protect our turf a little bit ... there could be some cannibalization of (our) own practice, but ultimately we know 1 of 8 workers will access a Concentra practice for injury care, and telemedicine will enable us to add more of those visits without brick-and-mortar expansion and the expense of that.

Our goal by the end of the year is 320-plus centers and 100 dedicated worksites.

What does this mean for you? I expect telemedicine is going to be the next big thing and, unlike a lot of the other fads we’ve seen in comp, it will have a major disruptive effect.

Joe Paduda is co-owner of CompPharma, a consortium of pharmacy benefit managers. This column is republished with his permission from his Managed Care Matters blog.

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