Retail News Breaks
Take Care Health collaborates on telehealth
October 17th, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. and BOSTON – Walgreen Co.'s Take Care Health Systems has partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and technology provider American Well Inc. to provide telehealth services to thousands of BCBSNC employees in North Carolina.
The companies said Wednesday that the service, called OnlineCareNC, enables BCBSNC employees from home or work to get a health care consultation from Take Care Health System nurse practitioners, health coaches or nutritionists via two-way video, secure text chat or phone.
OnlineCareNC is available to BCBSNC employees at home via an Internet connection and at virtual clinics located at BCBSNC headquarters in Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C. Take Care Health, the retail health clinic unit of Walgreens, manages the on-site BCBSNC health centers.
"Walgreens and Take Care Health are committed to utilizing our leading position in retail and workplace health solutions to expand access to quality care," Peter Hotz , group vice president for Walgreens, said in a statement. "Innovative approaches such as telehealth, and specifically OnlineCareNC, enable us to expand our reach and positively impact more lives, ultimately driving better health outcomes while also reducing costs for patients, businesses and payers."
BCBSNC employees can use OnlineCareNC, which is powered by American Well's Online Care Suite telehealth platform, to connect with a Take Care nutritionist or health coach for a live visit. Those having established relationships with BCBSNC's health center providers can use the online technology to talk live with a nurse practitioner.
During each online visit, Take Care health providers can review the employee's clinical information, discuss symptoms and recommend follow-up care to established patients. The telehealth system will automatically create an electronic record of each online visit, supporting continuity of care and collaboration among the providers caring for employees, the companies noted.
"Our collaboration with American Well and Take Care Health allows us to explore the capabilities of this new technology to meet the growing health care needs of our employees and customers, now and in the future," stated Fara Palumbo, chief human resources officer for BCBSNC.
The companies cited research showing that telehealth services are seeing swift adoption by insurers and employers nationwide to meet demand for convenient, cost-effective care. They said a July 2012 Towers Watson report found that more than one in four employers plan to offer telehealth services within 12 months, and a June 2012 Accenture survey revealed that three in four patients want to communicate with their doctors electronically.
"Health plan- and employer-sponsored telehealth solutions are gaining momentum nationally and globally as they prove to increase access to care and start to rein in costs," commented Ido Schoenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of American Well, a Boston-based provider of online health care solutions. "Online Care is increasingly being embraced as it delivers on the promise to lower costs while increasing patient access to immediate, real-time health care when and where it's needed."
Rite Aid Corp. has leveraged American Well's technology in piloting two telehealth services: Rite Aid Online Care, which provides live consultations with a Rite Aid pharmacist and was introduced in November 2010, and NowClinic Online Care, a virtual clinic offering with OptumHealth launched in September 2011.
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