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Members of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin now have a fast, more convenient way to see a doctor for non-emergency

needs when their own doctor is not readily available.

Members can now use their smart phone, tablet, or computer to have a live video visit with a US-based, board-certified doctor of their choice to discuss non-emergency health issues from home, work, or wherever they happen to be with internet access. Doctors using LiveHealth Online can provide a diagnosis, treatment, and even a prescription if needed.

This new online care service, LiveHealth Online, launched in 2013 first to national employers. It has now been expanded to the majority of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s health plan customers, including health exchange members. Doctors are available 24 hours, 365 days a year, including holidays. For eligible members, a LiveHealth Online visit costs the same or less than a primary care office visit.

“LiveHealth Online is one of several ways we are trying to make healthcare easier and more convenient for our members. It offers a secure means of reaching board-certified, US-based doctors anytime, anywhere, especially when consumers find it inconvenient to leave work or home and go to a doctor’s office,” said Larry Schreiber, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin. “Our members have told us that LiveHealth Online has saved them between two and three hours of time from traditional office visits, giving them more time for work, friends, family, or whatever things that they like best. Whether you’re a college student, young professional, a family, or an empty nester who likes to travel, we can all appreciate products that make our lives easier.”

Consumers who do not have Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield as a health plan can also use LiveHealth Online, simply by signing up and paying for the visit with a credit card. Doctors using LiveHealth Online typically charge $49 per medical visit.

Online care for non-emergency medical conditions is more convenient and affordable than a doctor’s visit or a visit to an urgent care clinic. Members can initiate video visits from their home or workplace at any time through a computer, smart phone, or tablet.

Patients use online care typically to communicate face-to-face with a doctor about colds, aches, sore throats, allergies, infections, rashes, and routine prescription refills. Doctors do not prescribe for controlled substances or lifestyle drugs. A summary of each visit is created, and at the patient’s request, can be forwarded to their primary care doctor—supporting continuity of care and collaboration among providers.

“LiveHealth Online represents a true shift in healthcare delivery by using technology to make healthcare easier and more consumer friendly,” said John Jesser, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield vice president of provider engagement strategy. “At this critical juncture in our nation’s healthcare transformation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is taking a lead in improving access to care and bringing a better healthcare experience to its members.”

Telehealth is a widely accepted mode of health communication, especially in rural areas where many people have to drive hours to visit a doctor.

A November 2012 study from the University of Pittsburgh published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that e-visits—using e-mail and electronic patient health records only—had similar outcomes to in-person visits for treating sinus and urinary tract infections.

LiveHealth Online can also lessen the burden on primary care doctors who are increasingly feeling the pressure from the growing doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. LiveHealth Online can help reduce wait time when trying to get in to a see a doctor. Getting care early on can help reduce the severity and duration of many typical illnesses such as the flu and infections.

Source: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin, anthem.com, livehealthonline.com

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