(Image credit: MDLIVE.)
In what the insurer calls an effort to better meet members’ needs and expand access to care, Humana (Louisville, Ky.) has teamed up with MDLIVE (Sunrise, Fla.), a telemedicine services and software provider, to provide Humana Medicare beneficiaries virtual access to doctors in select counties in Georgia and South Carolina.
Humana is including the telemedicine benefit on certain Medicare Advantage plans offered for the 2017 plan year, the insurer reports. Members who choose plans with this benefit can access doctors through personal computers, telephone or mobile devices for a wide range of non-emergency medical conditions, such as cold and flu, headaches and skin infections, with an applicable co-pay for each visit.
Human explains the motivation behind its partnership with MDLIVE by noting that telemedicine can be beneficial for people who might need to see a doctor outside of their primary care physicians’ office hours, such as on the weekend or evenings, or when they are traveling. It can also be beneficial for those who may not have access to transportation or become unable to drive when ill. MDLIVE’s network of board-certified physicians consistently achieves high patient satisfaction scores. The service has limited applicability, however, according to Humana: telemedicine should not be used for emergency situations or chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, and does not replace an in-person visit with a primary care physician or other provider. Limitations on healthcare and prescription services delivered via telemedicine vary by state.
With the member’s consent, Humana says it utilizes its clinical data technology to ensure individual health records are available to MDLIVE medical professionals and the MDLIVE clinician’s prescribed treatment is shared with the member’s primary care physician.
This is the first year the insurer has offered the telemedicine benefit on the Humana Regional Medicare Advantage PPO plan in Georgia and South Carolina. However, since introducing the benefit on some Medicare Advantage plans in 2016, 90 percent of Humana members who used the service and took the post-care survey ranked their experience as either good or excellent, Humana reports.
Reducing Barriers to Care
“With on-demand services playing a big role in people’s lives today, it’s important that we offer our members access to on-demand care to help reduce some of the primary barriers that prevent people from getting medical care,” comments Humana’s Regional Medicare President Jim Laughlin. “Video and telephonic visits allow our members to receive health care when and where they need it so we can help them achieve their optimal health. For Medicare beneficiaries, getting care when it’s needed may be able to help reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits.”