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Ramping up Telehealth: Lessons Learned from a Health Plan

How do you launch a telehealth service?

It can certainly seem like a big task, but when you break it down to a few key lessons, your chances of success grow. Sarah Martin, Assistant Vice President for Product Development & Member Engagement at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, shared her insightful thoughts with us on a webinar on implementing telehealth for health plans:

#1: Soft launch first, then market more widely

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina launched a telehealth program, Blue CareOnDemand, with American Well in January 2016. Instead of immediately launching marketing campaigns for members, the team spent January in a soft launch phase before introducing the service more broadly to members. This testing allowed the team to make any needed technical changes before marketing the service to their member population in early March. A softer launch prior to marketing ensures health plans can test the system and adapt to any learnings during the test phase.


#2: Push targeted marketing to your diverse member base

In terms of marketing, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina knew they should target those members that frequent the emergency room or could be redirected to a lower cost setting through Blue CareOnDemand. They wanted to go further, however, and look at other targets within their member population. They conducted persona research and analysis to better understand who would be more likely to use the service and benefit. Through research, they were able to do specific target marketing to different populations and implement a multi-faceted marketing plan with the right marketing mix to reach these other target segments.

#3: Recognize that your employers will want reporting

If you want your employers to invest in telehealth, they will want to see clear statistics and reporting on a regular basis. Through its telehealth platform, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina provides detailed reporting for employer clients. Before launching your telehealth offering, think about what you want to get out of reporting. This requires bringing all your stakeholders together and identifying the metrics that you want to benchmark and track on the analytics side.

Take note of these key lessons and you’ll be well prepared to launch telehealth, satisfying your members, employers and the stakeholders across your health plan.