In July, Richard Schwabacher, Chief Digital Officer and Head of Scarlet Health®, at BioReference Laboratories was invited to speak on a thought-leadership panel at Teladoc Health’s FORUM 2022 – Understanding Hybrid Care: The Need, Value, and Results. Teladoc’s FORUM 2022 is its 16th annual event that has a dedicated focus on advancing virtual care. The event convenes a global community of healthcare leaders to foster valuable dialogue on the power and potential of virtual care. Teladoc is a leader in whole-person virtual care driving better health outcomes across the full continuum of care.
The panel was moderated by Drew Turitz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Teladoc Health and sought to connect leaders with forward-looking perspectives and facilitating knowledge-sharing on best practices and success stories. Also on the panel was Eric Kinariwala, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Capsule and Robert Mordkin, MD, FACS, Chief Medical Officer at LetsGetChecked. The panelists discussed their company’s varied approaches to delivering healthcare services – from in-home testing options and prescription delivery, the panelists addressed how hybrid care solutions are improving the lives of patients by empowering them to manage their health on their terms.
Whole Person, Hybrid Care
Sitting on the panel, Schwabacher took the opportunity to address the role digital solutions have in improving the way patients access healthcare, including Scarlet Health and its impact on laboratory diagnostics delivery. When asked to define hybrid care, Schwabacher led with acknowledging that the changes in healthcare delivery empower patients to take more control over their health, offer more options that better cater to a patient’s needs, can lower costs, and improve access.
The purpose of hybrid care is to apply technology to what it does best: transport information, analyze that information, and facilitate the work of people, according to Schwabacher. More importantly, technology also lets people do what they do best: understand patient lives and conditions, be thoughtful, and provide the best care. In the end, all care is hybrid care – there is nothing in healthcare today that is not hybrid care with information technology. As hybrid care and the advancements in technology relate to whole-person care, Schwabacher argued that as a society, and as individuals, our relationship with information technology in growing more intimate and complex, which changes how collectively we interact with the healthcare system.
He noted that healthcare companies and providers today have the opportunity to rewrite the code and rescript how patients access and receive care in ways that can lead to the creation of a stronger, more robust system that better supports the lives of patients. Recently, Scarlet® and Teladoc announced their collaboration that brings Scarlet services to Teladoc’s millions of Primary360 members, and notably, during the initial trial, lab order completion rates increased by 22.5%.
Labs as a Core Healthcare Service
Laboratory diagnostics play a critical role in healthcare, and just the same, uncollected lab tests have significant healthcare consequences. Schwabacher spoke to the importance of reducing and preventing medical hardship, explaining that the ability to catch disease early rather than later can help the patient, but also reduce burdens on the system. Diagnostic testing is a quantifiable source of truth that clinicians use to identify a magnitude of factors that can determine health outcomes. He mentioned that 12 of the 15 most clinically and economically significant disease categories in the US dictate using laboratory diagnostics as the standard-of-care.
But lack of access to diagnostics for patients has wide-ranging effects; including, among many others, implications for medication non-adherence that will continue to grow as the burden of chronic disease grows. Good clinical care begins first with a diagnosis; but Schwabacher pointed out that easy access to diagnostics is far from guaranteed. He stated that in the US, patients in rural areas often experience higher barriers that limit their ability to receive the care they need; however, social determinants of health, often undiagnosed by clinicians, also play a pivotal role in how a patient interacts with healthcare. Additionally, factors like a patient’s gender identification, sex at birth, and race or ethnic background often determine how, when, and where a patient accesses medical services.
He noted that the application of hybrid care solutions, and mobile phlebotomy solutions like Scarlet, not only can help address medical problems more quickly, they also help to reduce unnecessary ER visits that can lead to inappropriate hospital admissions and burdensome medical expenses.
As digital health technologies continue to change the way patients and providers experience and consume healthcare, Scarlet is a simple and sophisticated solution that gives patients on-demand access. Schwabacher sees Scarlet as more than a convenient service, but an answer to a problem.
The panel discussion highlighted how hybrid care technologies and solutions like Scarlet are the future of healthcare, both as system of healthcare delivery and consumption. Patient-centric design and development of technology-based solutions have the power to reframe the healthcare landscape and improve health equity. Particularly with Scarlet, he closed by saying that he and his team are hyper-focused on one thing: opening access for phlebotomy collections through Scarlet, meeting patients where they are, across 140 million homes in the US.