Inside the Healthcare Transformation: Telemedicine & Value-based Care

Posted by Blake McKinney, MD on 12.1.2015
“Inside the Healthcare Transformation” is a series of blogs that features first-person reports on current developments in the transformation of American healthcare.
In this edition, I wanted to share a great post written by Dr. Blake McKinney, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of CirrusMD. In a few short words, Dr. McKinney captures what makes his company so revolutionary, at the same time that he pushes stakeholders of all kinds throughout the healthcare industry to consider the power of value-based care. Enjoy! –Mike Biselli

Ballooning medical costs are driving healthcare away from the legacy fee-for-service reimbursement model toward value-based care. Patients are paying more out of pocket, creating aligned incentives with providers for more efficient care. Visits to expensive physical facilities are often unnecessary since physicians can treat patients effectively by secure messaging, phone or video. However, delivering high-quality telemedicine takes more than just a doctor on a phone. Getting value-based telemedicine right requires:

(1) Ongoing Communication: One-time only telemedicine encounters are a thing of the past. Providers can leverage virtual care platforms to treat urgent issues quickly but should be integrated with local resources and have the ability to advance the patient’s course of care in-network and keep in touch with patients. Virtual care that’s incorporated into the overall continuum of care closes the loop for value-based care.

(2) No Co-pays: Co-pays or other per-use fees create a barriers to usage.  Would you enjoy entering your 16 digit credit card number every time you send a message to your doctor? Fee-for-service telemedicine visits incentivize physicians to end visits quickly rather than to add value and keep in touch. Value-based payment for virtual care enables relational communication.

(3) The “Quadruple Aim”: Physician dissatisfaction is rampant. Doctors spend more time documenting encounters in EHR systems designed to maximize fee-for-service billing than interacting with patients.  Physicians hate it, and patients feel disregarded.  Conversely, a virtual care platform that “self-documents” messaging encounters allows open lines of communication and physicians to treat patients the same way we treat our own friends and family – using our phones. If physicians are compensated with value-based payments and success is measured against outcomes, customer-centric care results alongside physician satisfaction – accomplishing the “Quadruple Aim.”


CirrusMD CMO Dr. Blake McKinney (Right) and CEO Andrew Altorfer (Left) founded their company to use telemedicine to enhance how care is delivered at the community level.

Moving to value-based healthcare requires more than just repackaging old technology systems. We must enable physicians to treat their patients through increasingly common forms of communication by developing business models that create both financial incentives and physician/patient workflows that are aligned with the interests of all participants.