athenahealth Guide to Virtual Care


  • The impact on patient satisfaction
  • Opportunities for expanding access to care across patient populations
  • Strategies for using virtual care to support value-based care initiatives 
  • The types of visits it supports well

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations and practices of all sizes felt the pain of virus-related lockdowns. As in-person visits were suddenly no longer a possibility, record numbers of healthcare organizations turned to telehealth to allow them to continue providing care to their patients safely.

This massive adoption of telehealth isn’t likely to be temporary. Providers and patients alike have embraced telehealth for the ease of use and the variety and quality of care it supports. It’s also become a financially viable option thanks to new reimbursement rules. With the help of de-identified data from across our network of customers, we’ve gathered insights to allow your organization to take advantage of the world of virtual care going forward.

Telehealth offers patients an easy way to seek healthcare quickly and with minimal disruption to their lives. This convenience plays a significant role in patients actively seeking care (which can affect health outcomes) and their satisfaction, which keeps them returning.

Throughout the pandemic, Black and Hispanic/Latino patients were less likely than white patients to visit a primary care provider, but telehealth helped close that gap. Depending on which organizations adopt it and how they support it, telehealth could continue to narrow or widen disparities in healthcare access nationally.

Research has shown that virtual visits are more likely to be scheduled for shorter durations compared to in-person appointments. This can create opportunities for providers to check in more frequently with patients, building and maintaining the deeper relationships necessary for success with value-based care. It can also improve the quality of care and patient outcomes, especially for those with chronic conditions.

Virtual care is ideal for visits that revolve around patient-provider communication rather than procedures requiring clinic visits. Specialties like mental health and primary care are excellent candidates for virtual care as they can conduct a higher percentage of their visits virtually than other specialties.

With virtual visits up nationwide, it’s clear that virtual care will continue to be an essential element of healthcare going forward. This guide offers you tactics for providing essential, high-quality care while improving your financial performance.