Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia’s (Richmond) LiveHealth Online service, which enables remote, online physician consultations is now available on smart phone, tablet or other computer and extended to the majority of Anthem’s health plan customers, including health exchange members. The service, which debuted in 2013 for national and large local employers, enables members to consult with doctors on non-emergency matters at any time and any day, including holidays, Anthem reports.
LiveHealth Online fits within a larger response to member and employer demand for greater access, convenience and affordability, according to said Karen Remley, M.D., Anthem’s chief medical director. “We understand and continually promote the importance of the physician-patient relationship for our members,” she comments. “However, there are instances when it’s after hours or difficult to get to a doctor’s office. With the launch of LiveHealth Online, we offer a secure means to help our members get the care they need by providing access to board-certified, primary care doctors around the clock.”
The service answers a need members may have in instances of non-urgent medical conditions that might otherwise cause them to seek more expensive consultation directly at an emergency room or urgent-care clinic, in cases where they’re unable to schedule a visit to their doctor, Anthem suggests. Remote “telehealth” consultation is already a widely accepted mode of health communication, especially in rural areas where many people have to drive hours to visit a doctor, according to the insurer.
Continuity of Care
Patients typically use online care to consult with a doctor about colds, aches, sore throats, allergies, infections, as well as wellness and nutrition advice, according to Anthem. Individuals who use LiveHealth online will be able to access a summary of each visit that, with the patient’s permission, can be forwarded to their primary care doctor – a feature Anthem characterizes as supporting continuity of care and collaboration among providers.
“LiveHealth Online represents a true shift in the delivery of healthcare by using technology to make it easier and more consumer friendly,” Remley adds. “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 our members.”