Anthem Blue Cross members will soon have a more convenient way to see a doctor for non-emergency needs when their own doctor is not readily available. By accessing the new LiveHealth Online service, at , via computer, members can choose a doctor and address their health issues live via two-way video.
This new online care service, LiveHealth Online, will launch in the first quarter of 2013 initially to small and large-group fully-insured customers and self-funded national employers. Doctors will offer members live consultations from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, including holidays.
“The LiveHealth Online care solution offers a secure means of reaching board-certified primary care doctors on demand, especially when consumers find it inconvenient to leave work or home and go to a doctor’s office,” said Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Our members and employer groups are telling us now, more than ever, that they need access, convenience and affordability in health care. LiveHealth Online is one of several ways we are able to respond to and meet their needs.”
Online care, for non-urgent medical conditions, is more convenient, accessible and affordable than a visit to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. Members can initiate online encounters from their home or workplace at any time, via live audio/video and secure chat through a computer. Patients use online care typically to communicate with a doctor about colds, aches, sore throats, allergies, infections as well as wellness and nutrition advice. A complete record of each encounter is created, and with the patient’s permission, can be forwarded to their primary care doctor -- supporting continuity of care and collaboration among providers.
“LiveHealth Online represents a true shift in healthcare delivery by using technology to make healthcare easier and more consumer friendly,” said Dr. Roy Schoenberg, president and CEO of American Well, which provides the technology powering LiveHealth Online, “At this critical juncture in our nation’s healthcare transformation, Anthem is taking a lead in improving access to care and bringing a better healthcare experience to its members.”
Telehealth is an accepted mode of health communication, especially in rural areas where many people have to drive hours to visit a doctor. A November 2012 study from the University of Pittsburgh published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that e-visits—using e-mail and electronic patient health records only—had similar outcomes to in-person visits for treating sinus and urinary tract infections.
As doctors participate in accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, LiveHealth Online can offer their patients an alternative to unnecessary and costly ER and urgent care visits. It can also lessen the burden on primary care doctors who are increasingly feeling the pressure from the growing doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015, the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed.
LHO is offered through UniCare and powered by American Well, which are separate companies.