; Telehealth Service Offered By Highmark Gives New Meaning To The Term House Call
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Press Release

Telehealth Service Offered By Highmark Gives New Meaning To The Term House Call

Physicians available 24 hours a day, seven days a week

March 27, 2012

PITTSBURGH – A cold or upper respiratory infection might need a physician’s attention, but when he or she is not available, the only option might be a visit to the emergency room. With that in mind, Highmark Inc. has launched a pilot program to a select number of members, who can conduct a secure virtual visit with a physician.

Through a service from Teladoc, the nation’s first and largest telehealth provider, Highmark members participating in the pilot can contact a Teladoc physician from their home, office or just about anywhere when they are experiencing a minor illness. As part of the telehealth service, members complete a medical history disclosure form and request a consultation with a physician. The U.S.-board certified physician will review the member’s electronic health record and provide a consultation through Teladoc’s telehealth platform.

When a consultation is requested, members will receive a call back from a physician within an average of 22 minutes for a fee of $38. After the consultation, the member’s electronic health record may be shared with his or her primary care physician upon the patient’s approval.

“Telehealth is critical to transforming health care delivery,” said Dr. Mary Goessler, a Highmark medical director. “We need to make sure our members get the right care in the right setting, and we believe this service can be an alternative to care in an emergency room or urgent care setting for those persons with minor, non-emergency medical problems.”

The service is designed for patients to use for a non-urgent consultation; on vacation or a business trip; when a doctor is not available; or for minor pediatric care.

“Solutions that deliver quality and convenient access to care for our members such as this one from Teladoc are critical to our innovation strategy,” said Anthony L. Porretta, director of business innovation and development. “Teladoc provides an additional access point of care for our members.”

“Our partnership with Highmark is a natural fit,” said Teladoc Chief Executive Officer Jason Gorevic. “Both companies strive to provide their respective members with access to high-quality health care while helping control costs.”

The service is not intended to replace a member’s regular physician. In fact, extensive use will be monitored as part of the pilot. “The service is set up to ensure members are connected with their regular physician,” said Dr. Goessler. “We encourage members to seek follow-up care through their primary care physician, if it’s necessary.”

As part of the pilot, approximately 10,000 members from three Western Pennsylvania companies and one company in West Virginia currently have access to Teladoc physicians. Following the pilot, Highmark plans to offer telehealth as a covered benefit in the third quarter of 2012. During this expansion, Highmark intends to work with its network physicians to enable them to participate in the Teladoc program.

About Highmark
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.8 million members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the company’s health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 19,500 employees across the country. For more than 70 years, Highmark’s commitment to the community has consistently been among the company’s highest priorities as it strives to positively impact the communities where we do business. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.