Health Systems’ Integrated Virtual Clinics Improve Care Quality, New Data from Carena Reveals

Infographic: Commercial telemedicine providers fall short in key
quality measures including visit lengths, prescription rates and
management rates

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#telemedicine–Patients who receive integrated virtual care within a health system
experience more time with clinicians, lower prescription rates and
better continuity of care than those who receive care from commercial
telemedicine providers, according to new data released today by Carena.

Depicted in an infographic, “3
Ways Integrated Virtual Clinics are Improving Care Quality
,” the
data demonstrates that integrated virtual clinics minimize care
fragmentation and meet the highest quality benchmarks for delivering

“Virtual care is a natural use of technology to extend the availability
of care from health systems that patients know and trust. It can meet
the needs of patients on high deductible plans and it can help systems
prepare for new reimbursement models,” said Ralph Derrickson, president
and CEO of Carena, Inc. “The data shows, virtual care, when offered as
part of an integrated delivery system, can improve quality and reduce

The infographic highlights 2015 data from Carena’s health system
partners and data publicly available from commercial telemedicine
providers, including:

Visit Length: Integrated virtual clinics studied provided more
face time with patients.

  • A patient who received integrated virtual care spent an average of 20
    minutes with a physician. Comparatively, one commercial provider
    promotes two-minute consultations, another offers 10-minute
    consultations and a third offers 15-minute consultations.
  • In addition to averaging longer visit lengths, these health systems do
    not put a cap on how long a visit can last. Many commercial
    telemedicine providers restrict consultation length under a
    fee-for-service model, charging extra for more time.

“A longer visit means a better understanding of a patient’s needs and
better care outcomes,” said Dr. Robert Bernstein, MD, MPH, VP of
clinical affairs at Carena. “While a large part of telemedicine is about
convenience and immediacy, it’s crucial to slow down and give patients
proper, thoughtful attention.”

Prescriptions Rates: Prescription rates in health system virtual
clinics studied were significantly lower than rates of other commercial
telemedicine offerings.

  • Virtual care integrated within the health systems studied had an
    overall prescription rate of 48 percent, whereas the prescription rate
    at a leading commercial telemedicine provider hovered at 77 percent.
  • Virtual clinic patients diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Tract
    Infection, or the common cold, were prescribed antibiotics 37 percent
    of the time. A leading commercial telemedicine provider prescribed
    antibiotics 56 percent of the time to patients diagnosed with the same
  • Virtual clinic patients diagnosed with Bronchitis were prescribed
    antibiotics 13 percent of the time while the commercial telemedicine
    provider had a prescription rate of 83 percent.

“The over-prescription of antibiotics has turned antibiotic resistance
into a health crisis,” Bernstein said. “As health care providers, we
must be extremely judicious when prescribing antibiotics, or any
medication. We want lasting, positive outcomes, not quick, temporary

Care Management Rates: Demonstrating a focus on continuity of
care rather than an isolated health care transaction, when virtual care
is available within a health system, patient engagement is increased and
referrals stay within the patient’s care network. Commercial providers
studied had far higher virtual management rates, leading to far fewer
referrals to clinicians who may have been able to better address
patients’ needs.

  • Health systems studied had a virtual care management rate of 68
    percent while commercial telemedicine providers touted virtual care
    management rates of 93 percent.
  • Integrated virtual visits resulted in referrals to
    additional/alternative care 32 percent of the time. Leading commercial
    telemedicine providers referred patients only about 7 percent of the

“While a virtual visit can help address many health issues, others
require care that only an in-person visit can provide. In virtual care,
a higher referral rate means health systems stay engaged in the
patient’s care episode, and they are being directed to specific
in-person care when it is required,” Bernstein said.

Next week, at the American
Telemedicine Association 2016 Annual Conference & Tradeshow
Carena will be discussing how integrated virtual clinics within health
systems improves patient engagement and care quality.

To see how virtual care integrated into a health system compares to
other telemedicine approaches, view or download Carena’s infographic here.

About Carena

Carena partners with health systems to extend its services to more
patients through high-quality, integrated virtual clinics. Patients can
access 24/7 system-branded virtual care by phone, tablet or computer
from local systems they know and trust. Our virtual clinics are staffed
by Carena’s full-time board-certified providers, health system providers
or a hybrid of both. Carena’s telemedicine solutions include software
and clinical staffing and operations management, as well as provider
education through Carena University. Carena’s team of clinicians,
technologists, marketers and customer service experts are dedicated to
creating quality patient experiences and responsible outcomes. Today,
more than 15 million people nationwide have access to our
partner-branded virtual clinics. For more information, please visit


for Carena
Jeremy Bartram, 206-854-3281