Recently we had the opportunity to attend one of the series of national meetings that Cigna holds every year to update sales and call center teams on the company’s 2023 Medicare Advantage Plan. The sessions allow plan administrators and their sales team to meet with innovative offerings and learn about their services.
These round-table meetings lasted about 2.5 hours, and the Great Speech team learned a lot from talking with and listening to attendees. Among the key takeaways were:
- We heard many personal stories: In sharing how we provide virtual speech therapy to patients with Alzheimer’s disease or those recovering from stroke and aphasia, many in the audience recounted challenges in their families and among their members. It drove home how prevalent communications issues are. The impact of these medical conditions is universal in many ways. Our staff also shared stories about their own family members with similar medical challenges. The stories we heard reminded us that empathy and kindness are just as valuable as the technical aspects of speech therapy.
- There were many specific questions about coverage: Most of the questions were around covered benefits, referrals and co-pays. We heard that it’s not easy to find speech therapy services in certain areas, like Mississippi. We were pleased to inform the audience that we provide services virtually in 47 states today (MS being one of those states). That’s the beauty of virtual speech therapy – it can be delivered anywhere if a patient has a computer with stable internet connection.
- Senior patients are comfortable using virtual technology: Great Speech was founded in 2014, so we did not have to adapt our care delivery model due to the pandemic; therefore, we feel our observational data is robust. Seniors receiving virtual speech therapy have adapted well to the digital age. For example, most use online banking and FaceTime to visit grandchildren. Even those patients who may not be proficient or comfortable have family members and other caregivers available to help.
Above all, we stressed the importance of following a virtual speech therapy care plan. Consistency gets results and we see patients every week who get faster results in fewer visits because they follow a virtual therapy care plan. The Cigna staff was very excited and pleased that we were able to attend and share with the sales team that virtual speech therapy is now available to their members as an in-network benefit.