We began covering telehealth and telemedicine back in 2014 when healthcare professionals and technology companies were exploring potential applications of remote care and the required communications infrastructure. Skip ahead seven years and telemedicine is now available in all 50 U.S. states for diverse remote patient monitoring and consultations. In an April earnings call, United Healthcare CEO Andrew Witty announced its subsidiary Optum Virtual Care is now available throughout the U.S.

Optum Care consists of more than 53,000 physicians. Optum Care clients start by contacting the network to discuss their health or medical problem or concern, and they are then connected with appropriate care. Patients in the Optum Care program have access to in-person as well virtual consults. Patients can schedule a home video visit with a physician via the patient’s smartphone or tablet or with a computer equipped with a video camera and microphone. Patients can also visit their primary care physicians in-person. The program also supports patient visits to urgent care clinics or emergency rooms as needed.

Patient participation in Optum Care’s digital home monitoring program took off in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. In the first quarter this year, for example, Optum Care’s digital network logged more than 1.5 million biometric measurements of high-risk chronic disease patients, according to Optum Care President and Chief Operating Officer Dirk McMahon. McMahon reported patients in the digital monitoring program also had 99% medication compliance, which can be an important factor in getting the best outcomes from treatment programs. The network is also expanding its resources and digital therapeutic services for behavioral health support.

Telemedicine has certainly become mainstream with the largest healthcare firm in the U.S. now offering virtual care as a major component of its multi-provider coverage.