How to Evaluate a Virtual Primary Care Program

June 20, 2023

First Stop Health

Traditional primary care has allowed trusted doctors to provide high quality healthcare to patients — including preventive treatment, medication management, and support for chronic disease and whole person wellness. However, it is inconvenient, often fee-for-service and difficult to schedule or get an appointment with a primary care physician.  

Virtual primary care is breaking down these barriers as it provides quick, convenient access to trusted doctors, improves access equity, costs less, reduces high-cost claims, encourages preventive care, promotes medication adherence and much more.  

 Here are some things to ask when evaluating a virtual primary care program:  

Offer patients a positive and convenient user experience? A solution must lower patient wait-times to schedule visits, make accessing doctors easy, be little-to-no-cost to patients when they use the service and offer the ability for patients to choose their doctor based on personal preferences. 

Connect patients to quality care? Be sure doctors are thoroughly vetted and managed, appropriately licensed and board-certified, able to prescribe and order treatment nationwide, and frequently retrained for quality assurance purposes.  

Allow patients to ask doctors questions, receive follow-up calls and get medications without incurring additional costs? Hands-on, value-based care should be easy for the patient. Virtual primary care should offer more frequent and longer visits with doctors to customize health plans to meet the unique needs of patients.  

Provide human support for patients 24/7 with access to urgent care support in <15 minutes (on average)? 24/7 care for acute issues should be included in any virtual primary care solution. 

Offer no-or-low-cost employee communications plan that generates awareness, clinical outreach and appointment follow-up throughout the year? In order to support employees, they must be aware of the benefits programs available to them. Custom employee engagement campaigns should be made available to employers to drive utilization of virtual primary care. 

Generate high utilization by employees? As a benchmark, look for virtual care solutions that report at least 30% average utilization and look for a solution that will guarantee utilization in writing and provide trend reports. 

Provide a doctor-patient visit that is lengthy enough for high quality care? The ideal time is a 20-minute visit. Referrals should be in-network and recommended only when appropriate. Care should be coordinated with all health plan benefits. 

Furnish an employer with de-identified population health data that can show health trends for the workforce? Robust reporting is crucial to helping employers realize the impact of a virtual primary care solution. De-identified data on utilization, savings, treated conditions, demographics, patient ratings and testimonials, and other information should be made readily available to the employer and at no cost to them. 

Explain how it delivers the best value for employers? Look for a solution that will provide performance metrics or guarantees, show client retention and has a high net promoter score (NPS). 

As virtual care continues to be utilized, and patients and doctors grow more comfortable with virtual visits, employers will need to be mindful of what benefit solutions work best for their employees. Combining the proven effectiveness of primary care with the convenience and safety of virtual visits has the potential to deliver positive health outcomes in the present and sustain them in the future. 

First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Care Solutions    

FSH Virtual Primary Care, Virtual Urgent Care (Telemedicine) and Virtual Mental Health solutions deliver patient-first care to members where and when they need it. Virtual Primary Care consists of preventive and chronic care to help coordinate and manage the many touchpoints of members’ healthcare journeys. With Virtual Urgent Care (included with Virtual Primary Care), members have access to 24/7 urgent care for episodic health concerns. Virtual Mental Health provides counseling to members, and in conjunction with Virtual Primary Care guidance and medication management, can lead to better whole-person health. 


Originally published Jun 20, 2023 3:29:55 PM.