One of the largest insurers in the country is allowing members to speak with doctors through video. It starts out in California and Ohio with plans to include the entire country later this year.
WellPoint will include almost 33 million people with this two-way video. UnitedHealth Group already offers a similar plan, but it is not nationwide as of yet.
Participants will be able to initiate conversations from home or at work with audio and video over a secure chat. They can talk to doctors live from 7 am to 11 pm every day, even on the holidays. For right now, they will need a desktop or laptop with a webcam for these talks, but later on, they will be able to use a tablet or smartphone.
Choose Your Doctor
Participants will be able to choose the doctor they want to talk to when they log onto the system. They can look at the doctors’ photos and read their information, as well see ratings from other patients. Once they select a doctor, they will complete a form that details their health issue. The doctor will get this information as well as information from previous online consults.
This consultation will not relieve the need for a primary care physician; instead it will work in partnership with the professional. After the consultation and the patient’s review of the doctor, they will be asked for permission to forward the record to the primary care doctor.
WellPoint will have to analyze each state’s laws before they can offer the video consult in that area. States differ on whether a doctor must examine a patient before writing a prescription. There is also the issue of whether it can be considered a legally recognized consultation with the privacy afforded to patients from other medical providers.
This new option may make health care more accessible to people who can’t afford or don’t want to go to a doctor. They can get a consult from home and receive better care than not talking with a medical provider at all.
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