Cigna and MDLive have joined forces to offer virtual wellness exams with the hope that these visits will serve as an on-ramp for patients who rarely interact with the healthcare system.
Cigna members who undergo a virtual wellness visit will meet an MDLive primary care physician who will review lab tests, take down family and personal health history and identify potential health risks. MDLive doctors will also screen for mental and behavioral health concerns.
During the visit, the physician and patient will build an action plan for their health that includes referrals to other sites of care as necessary.
Cynthia Zelis, M.D., chief medical officer at MDLive, said the visits are a "first step" toward virtual primary care.
"We know there are consumer barriers to getting healthcare," Zelis told Fierce Healthcare. "Virtual primary care will work in partnership with our brick and mortar colleagues to ensure that the right level of care is given to the right conditions."
Julie McCarter, vice president of product solutions at Cigna, told Fierce Healthcare that the program was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the team was forced to press pause and pivot to address it.
However, she said, when the team returned to work on the program, the pandemic served to underscore the value of that effort.
"Cigna cared about this capability before we even knew COVID-19 would invade our world the way it has," McCarter said. "We knew this mattered as an access point."
McCarter said dozens of members signed up for a virtual wellness visits in the first two weeks, so "early indications" are that the platform is being well received.
Zelis said that in addition to helping bring patients into the healthcare system, the virtual wellness visits also help make them more comfortable with telemedicine more broadly. She said 77% of the early adopters who scheduled a visit said it was their first time using telehealth.
"Telehealth it is proving that the quality that can be delivered by telemedicine is equal, particularly with health and wellness, to our brick and mortar partners," she said.