UnitedHealthcare launches new app with on-demand telemedicine

UnitedHealthcare has launched a new app for its members that will make it far easier for them to access virtual visits around the clock. 

The app, which will be available for free on both Apple and Android devices, will allow UnitedHealthcare’s 27 million employer plan members to access on-demand telemedicine 24/7 alongside tools that allow them to track their benefits and compare pricing, the insurer announced Thursday. 

Pat Keran, vice president of product innovation at the insurer, told FierceHealthcare that the app was designed to make it easy for the end user to use now and for developers to modify later.  

A screenshot of UnitedHealthcare's new app
A screenshot of UnitedHealthcare's new app (UnitedHealthcare)

“We’ve really simplified the member interface, making it easier to help them find and navigate through a number of functions,” Keran said. “From a technical standpoint, we’re really modified and molded the back end to really help us modify and improve the application.” 

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Using the app, a UnitedHealthcare member can directly request and schedule a virtual visit instead of needing a separate login or having to jump to a different application. Most UnitedHealthcare members are covered for such visits. 

Keran said UnitedHealthcare has covered telehealth visits since 2016, but consistent feedback from both members and employers on the need for easier navigation drove the app’s design. 

Employers view virtual visits and telemedicine broadly as a key tool to manage costs and help workers avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency department. A recent survey from the National Business Group on Health found 51% of large employers are making additional virtual tools a top priority for 2020

As the app is designed to be built upon in the future, Keran said UnitedHealthcare is already working on deciding what the next wave of features should be.  

The goal, he said, is to ultimately build a “one-stop shop” dashboard that could host a variety of valuable data, so integration with wellness programs, claims data and remote patient monitoring are likely on the horizon. 

“We could really make this more of a comprehensive dashboard for members who want to engage with their healthcare all in one spot,” Keran said.