According to an analysis by McKinsey & Company, telemedicine encounters have the potential to save $250 billion annually in healthcare spending in insured populations.

But creating real value from virtual care requires healthcare providers and healthcare plans to design their digital journey with intent, says senior executive at The Clinic by Cleveland Clinic, a joint venture that combines clinical expertise (Cleveland Clinic) with digital technology (dated telemedicine provider Amwell) combined) to give patients better access to care (virtual second opinion).

Telemedicine requires personalized care at scale for complex medical conditions, accelerates the transition to concierge care and improves access to the best medical expertise, The Clinic by Cleveland Clinic continues.

Healthcare IT News caught up with Frank McGillin, CEO of The Clinic by Cleveland Clinic, to get his highly insightful perspective on where telemedicine needs to go in 2022 and beyond.

Q. You said that creating real value from virtual care requires healthcare providers and healthcare plans to intentionally design their digital journey. What exactly do you mean?

A. It is clear that virtual care is now a permanent form of access and delivery of health care. When the pandemic struck, healthcare organizations had to increase their investments in telemedicine in a matter of days to meet the surge in demand. That meant relying on the fastest options available. This often resulted in "platform sprawl".

We are still feeling the impact of less than intended digital investments made during a crisis. According to a survey by Amwell and HIMSS Analytics, one in four hospitals, healthcare systems and healthcare plans today rely on five or more telehealth platforms.

This poses significant barriers to the delivery of seamless digital care. It also increases the potential for care mishaps. This is especially true given that, according to the survey, 25% of physicians state that virtual care systems and clinical workflows are not yet integrated into their organization.

To create real value from virtual care, leaders must determine the types of digital investments needed to ensure excellent care throughout the care process. Leaders also need to consider, "What digital investments will enable our organization to remain competitive in a disruptive landscape?"

This means doubling down on investments that connect patients with experts in their specific condition, engage patients in a comprehensive review of their diagnosis and treatment plan, and provide a seamless and highly coordinated care experience.

If healthcare leaders don't consciously shape their digital journey, they risk losing patients, physicians and market share to disruptors with well-defined digital capabilities.