BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York/BlueShield of Northeastern New York Launch Online Care as a Cornerstone for Health Care

On-Demand Health Care Services Arrive In New York State Following Rapid 90-Day Deployment

LAS VEGAS, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at the American Health Insurance Plans' (AHIP) industry conference, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (BCBSWNY) and BlueShield of Northeastern New York (BSNENY) announced the initial launch of Online Care NY, a service that offers on-demand health care services in New York state to eligible members and employers. BCBSWNY/BSNENY completed the operational implementation in 90 days and begins the rollout of the service, first to their employees and its charter physician group, on August 1st. The member launch in Western New York will follow September 1st with its Northeastern New York launch by year-end 2010.

Online Care NY, powered by American WellTM technology, will enable eligible members to have immediate live encounters with credentialed physicians from the plans' established provider networks. Patients make these connections from their homes or workplaces at any time, by Internet or telephone.

"Thirty-seven million more Americans will seek care in a system that is already struggling with a shortage of providers. For reform to succeed, we must offer new ways to access care," said Alphonso O'Neil-White, president & CEO of BCBSWNY/BSNENY. "For patients, Online Care NY provides immediate and convenient access to care. For physicians, it means having more time to spend on in-office visits with patients who need face time, while also enabling providers to take care of the day-to-day health concerns - online or telephonically - of other patients."

During live interactions, physicians will be able to review the patients' clinical information, speak with and see patients, prescribe medications as appropriate, and suggest follow-up care.

"Providing more people with access to insurance - a primary goal of health care reform - was just the beginning. Through Online Care NY, our plans are addressing the very real need to transform how, when, and where we receive care," continued O'Neil-White. "Without it, physicians will become even more overwhelmed while patients ignore health care needs or continue to inappropriately use urgent care. Now, both physicians and patients alike have an option that better meets their changing needs."

The addition of Online Care NY to its offerings is aligned with the plans' goal of leading the evolution of health care: how people access it, how they engage with it, how they can best serve all of their customers, and creating experiences that inspire better health.

"In this time of health care transformation, our goal is to provide our members and providers with a support bridge to 2014," said Cynthia A. Ambres, MD, MS, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSWNY/BSNENY. "With Online Care NY, we have an opportunity to have a real impact by improving access while enabling patients to have their issues addressed in the most appropriate and convenient setting, avoiding unneeded use of urgent care."

"We are proud to support BCBSWNY/BSNENY in achieving its goals for healthcare reform," said Ido Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well Inc. "Within a short three months, Online Care NY has become foundational to BCBSWNY/BSNENY's vision for improved care delivery to its communities."

About BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York/BlueShield of Northeastern New York

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and BlueShield of Northeastern New York are divisions of HealthNow New York Inc., one of the Northeast's leading health insurance and employee benefits companies that provides quality health care and innovative solutions for members throughout upstate New York and beyond. Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, the company's revenues exceeded $2.45 billion in 2009. BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and BlueShield of Northeastern New York are independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

About American Well

American WellTM has created an Online Care system that allows consumers to connect with physicians immediately, whenever they have a health need, from their homes or offices. The innovation uses advanced Web-based technologies and telephony to remove traditional barriers to healthcare access, including insurance coverage, geography, mobility and time constraints. American Well is committed to supporting health plans in meeting consumer and employer demand for affordable, efficient and immediate access to quality care. For more information, please visit