For Anthem, telemedicine about improved access

By Dan Bowman

Anthem's John Jesser, who's charged with the success of the health payer's LiveHealth Online telemedicine offering, says that one of his primary goals is to integrate with health systems and providers, as opposed to simply offering the tool independently to consumers.

"We don't want it to be just another fragmented way for patients to get care," Jesser tells FierceHealthIT. "Instead, we want it to be something that's part of the system. Our work is becoming more and more provider oriented, and we're working more with health systems and provider groups to bring the whole ecosystem together."

Anthem started LiveHealth Online in 2012, working with Boston-based American Well. It initially rolled out an urgent care model, but in January expanded to offer mental health visits, as well. The primary beneficiaries so far, Jesser believes, have been working mothers.

"For busy moms, when it's 9 o'clock at night and one child is sick, they're often trying to figure out the next day how to get out of work, get the child to a pediatrician and call them out of school," he says. "But we've heard rave reviews from happy mothers who have been able to streamline that process into a 15-minute virtual visit."

While Jesser wouldn't share specific numbers regarding visit information, only mentioning that currently "hundreds" of visits a day are taking place, he says the volume of both people signing up and participating in visits doubled in 2014. In 2015, Jesser says, visits quadrupled.

Anthem also in 2015 increased access to group Medicare Advantage (MA) plan enrollees. In 2013, the payer included telemedicine for individual MA plan consumers in 12 states. Last year, in nine of those markets, it rolled out telemedicine offerings to the group side, for employers who offer MA for their employees.

While adoption initially was slow, Jesser says, direct outbound calls helped to turn the tide a bit.

"We found that enrollees were twice as responsive to the outbound calling as the under 65 population was," he says. 

For Anthem, telemedicine about improved access