Telehealth is hot topic at LVBCH conference

And millennials are a driving force behind the call for more virtual health care visits, said panelists at an inaugural health care executive conversation that was part of the May 2 conference at DeSales University.

“It’s about evolving our model to meeting our customers where they are in their life,” said Brian Seiz, president of Express Scripts, a pharmacy company and subsidiary of the Cigna health services organization. “It’s about how they want to be communicated with versus doing it on our terms. I think that’s the future.”

The executive conversation capped the day-long conference and featured executives from Penn State Health St. Joseph’s, East Penn Manufacturing, Express Scripts and Capital BlueCross. The forum was moderated by Ashley Russo of The PEAK TV, a health and wellness program on WFMZ Channel 69.

John R. Morahan, president of Penn State Health St. Joseph, in Berks County, questioned how telehealth options will be paid for as they become more common.

“More people want convenience and want the diagnosis right away, even if it’s the middle of the night,” he said. “But if they hit the app and talk to the doctor via a telehealth visit, right now it is an out-of-pocket expense. Will it always be an out-of-pocket?”

Nonetheless, Morahan mentioned that telehealth is coming to the intensive care unit at Penn State Health St. Joseph this spring. St. Joseph physicians will be able to consult in real time with the most highly qualified intensive care physicians across the United States through a “virtual intensive care.”

The growing push for single-payer health care was another major point of discussion at the forum.

“This country is big on choice,” said Morahan, “and a government-run program could become very restrictive. At the end of the day, from 2008 to now, the government is already paying for a lot of Americans; 10,000 Americans a day qualify for Medicare. We have a lot to talk about and it’s not going to get solved in the next few years.”

Also at the conference were presentations by health care expert Robert Laszweski and company leaders at Geneia, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Merck.

The Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Healthcare or LVBCH is a nonprofit coalition of more than 221 large and mid-sized employers mostly based in the Lehigh Valley. The companies insure more than 140,000 employees across the country.

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