What Does the Future of Virtual Care Hold for Businesses with Kate Brown

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About this Episode

Kate Brown is head of Mercer's Center for Health Innovation and is an expert in managing and improving employee population health through corporate wellness initiatives. Brown also holds a master's degree in kinesiology and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation.  

In this episode, Brown discusses the latest trends and disruptive innovations in the employer-sponsored healthcare space. These include the pros and cons of the rapid adoption of digital healthcare solutions, what healthcare will look like in 2030, the threat posed to current virtual care providers by big tech, and the enormous potential of remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology to revolutionize the future of healthcare.  

Brown identifies the current state of 'fragmented virtual care' as one of the most pressing concerns in the virtual healthcare space. This phenomenon occurs when an employee receives treatment for several different conditions from separate care providers. Since these conditions are essentially being treated in isolation, employees are at risk of poor outcomes, while duplicate billing can affect employers. The underlying issue is that patient data is siloed, and subsequently, holistic, cost-effective treatment is hindered. Listen to Brown's intuition on solving this problem and others through her fresh mindset.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

"Employers, in particular, have learned that mental health is something that everyone has and that everyone needs to manage."

"The pandemic definitely does suck. I think the thing that is the biggest silver-lining from where I'm sitting is that a lot of people have realized that you can do things differently and the world won't implode."

"There was a lot of older infrastructure that was in place prior to coronavirus that was quickly flipped and used to deliver virtual care, and in some cases, that's great. In other cases, it really needs to be reexamined and not built from scratch, but maybe built from close to scratch in order to get it right and deliver a good virtual experience."  

On fragmented virtual healthcare:

"Today, all the data exists in silos, and so if the data is not shared appropriately and if there's not someone looking holistically at the patient, I think all of the risks [poor outcomes and inefficient care] that you mentioned, Jonathan, are possible."  

"Using remote patient monitoring technology enables people to receive a lot more care at home than they did previously."

Show Breakdown

01:04 - What is 'real' innovation in the corporate wellness space?

02:21 - What is currently happening in virtual care?

04:23 - What is the difference between virtual care and 'virtual-first' care?

05:56 - What is fragmented virtual care, and what is its impact?

12:03 - How much focus do current virtual care providers place on user experience and user engagement?

15:46 - How does 'virtual-first' care intersect with traditional health plan offerings, and what are the benefits and costs?

25:46 - What does virtual healthcare look like in 2030?  

30:00 - The power and potential of RPM technology.  

31:57 - The healthy open-mindedness that followed the pandemic and how it benefited the field of health innovation.

33:47 - Which health company would Kate Brown have invested in during 2019?

35:00 - Accreditation for business to show commitment to a work environment conducive to positive mental health.  

36:31 - How has the shift towards socially and environmentally responsible business practices impacted the virtual healthcare and corporate wellness fields?  

38:38 - Kate Brown's closing thoughts and final words of wisdom.


Kate Brown

Kate Brown leads Mercer's Center for Health Innovation (CHI), a group within the U.S. Health business dedicated to driving innovation that works for our employer clients. Kate is responsible for creating and executing on Mercer’s innovation roadmap, and was instrumental in the creation of Mercer’s latest point of view, Reinvent for Value. Kate’s current focus areas include how digital health companies are accelerating change in healthcare, how technology is reshaping care delivery, and the role of the consumer in benefits. During her tenure as the CHI leader, Kate has expanded Mercer’s innovation portfolio with several key initiatives that benefit employer plan sponsors, including QualPic, a diagnostic tool employers can use to assess quality and value in their health plans.

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