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OptumHealth (Subsidiary of UnitedHealthCare) Teams Up With American Well for 24/7 Physician Consults

Posted Jun 04 2009 10:41pm

Back in November I posted about American Well and the Blue Cross/Blue Shield collaboration in Hawaii and now it has expanded once more to image OptumHealth, which is part of UnitedHealthCare and offers it’s own PHR (personal health record) for participants.

Also in April, American Well physician video services became available in Minnesota with Blue Cross. 

Also, as a refresher, this information can be ported to the Microsoft HealthVault as well which was announced back in December 2008.

One added benefit here too with Microsoft HealthVault share any records with the physician while connected with a webcam consult, so if you needed to reference a lab stored in the Vault, you can by sharing, and you can also share any documents you choose as well even when offline, but doing it while connected when there is a need sure will make in convenient.  Shoot, for that matter if you have a device that does glucose or blood pressure readings you could connect the units via USB to your computer and share those as well through the HealthVault.   This program may be a little different and here I am referring to the normal features anyone can use with HealthVault related to sharing.

I was not familiar with what eSync was so I watched the video and the presentation. There’s a lot there and it takes a while to watch, but if you have the time it will discuss and focus on how physicians can save money and learn about using the “business intelligence” they have to offer, how you can analyze community statistics and be a better doctor for your community.  We see this happening everywhere, hospitals, etc. all pushing business intelligence down to the already over burdened doctor to analyze and help become cost effective, so this is nothing new here.   Through having all this information to analyze the hopes are to save money and create better decision making processes, if it doesn’t end up muddying the water too much in the process, as a physician may be members of more than one health plan, so to keep up with 4 or 5 of these, which is not uncommon here in California, it could end up being overkill, unless you put all your eggs in one basket, but nobody does that. 

They are also getting the health coach consultants in the act, aka Utilization Managers to some extent here to help doctors make their decisions, so image are 2 head better than one?  If one is a clinician and the other is risk management focused?  One more way to keep “cost” and not better healthcare in focus. 

Back to the American Well video side of things, I think this is great as there are automated processes that bill for you and create a smooth interaction.  With having a webcam, it makes for a better visit by all means, although it said it is not necessary.  This part I like and frankly what patient would not like this convenience.  

I am not sure on how this agreement works, but on the one in Hawaii, even uninsured individuals can use the service for a quoted fee deemed affordable.  There will be a time when I think we won’t be able to live without a webcam (grin). 

image It’s been almost a year since Boston-based American Well unveiled its online healthcare marketplace, a system designed to allow health plan members to connect with doctors or other medical providers live over the Web without having to visit an office or clinic. It’s an idea that could simplify healthcare access and reduce costs for both consumers and providers. But adoption has been slow: so far, only two state health plans (the Blue Cross/Blue Shield franchises in Hawaii and Minnesota ) have hired American Well to implement the service for their members.

Now American Well has struck a deal that could help it leapfrog the painstaking, state-by-state process of signing up large health-plan customers and expand its business much faster. In a joint announcement this morning with Golden Valley, MN-based OptumHealth, American Well said that it will combine its secure Web communications platform with OptumHealth’s technology for delivering information about individual patients to healthcare providers. That way, any health plan, employer, or medical practice that uses OptumHealth’s platform, called eSync, could potentially give its patients or employees the ability to connect with physicians for real-time online conversations.

  imagePress Release:

SAN DIEGO (June 3, 2009) — OptumHealth Inc. today announced that it is collaborating with American Well Corp. to offer the first nationwide service allowing individuals immediate access to physicians and clinicians via two-way video, secure chat, the phone or a corporation’s health care portal. The announcement was made during this year’s annual America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference in San Diego.

“There’s a difference between having access to online health information and being able to talk live with your doctor or other available credentialed clinicians who understand your needs,” said Rob Webb, chief executive officer for OptumHealth Care Solutions. “What we’re rolling out with American Well is the ability for someone to speak with a doctor or clinician anywhere, any time — whether it’s from home, at work or while traveling.”

“The collaboration between OptumHealth and American Well marks a milestone for the health care industry and will improve access to care for millions of Americans,” said Ido Schoenberg, M.D., chief executive officer of American Well. “At a time when the country is seeking ways to improve health care delivery and reduce costs, OptumHealth is leading the way by making on-demand medical services available to consumers and employers nationwide.”   

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According to the California HealthCare Foundation, 78 percent of health care consumers want to interact with providers online. And a recent Gartner Predicts reported that: “By 2013, 25 percent of patient encounters in North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific that could be conducted virtually, will be.”*

OptumHealth and American Well plan to leverage two proprietary technologies: OptumHealth’s eSync Platform SM, which synchronizes health information to deliver prioritized, clinically appropriate and personalized health care information; and American Well’s Online Care platform, which enables real-time conversations between individuals and physicians. Together, the technologies will allow consumers on a state-by-state basis to talk with a local health care professional in a secure environment any time, anywhere; and physicians to expand their practices and care for their patients beyond a traditional office setting. The service will be available to employers, their employees and individual consumers.

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“Combining these platforms allows physicians to connect with an individual online in a way that feels as personal as an office visit,” said Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer for OptumHealth. “The individual is guided to a conversation with a qualified health care professional who can quickly understand his or her health care needs. Additionally, by bringing this into the eSync environment, we're able to maintain continuity of care while delivering a positive patient experience — something that until now has proven elusive in our industry.”

About OptumHealth
Golden Valley, Minn.-based OptumHealth Inc. helps individuals navigate the health care system, finance their health care needs and achieve their health and well-being goals. The company’s personalized health advocacy and engagement programs tap a unique combination of capabilities that encompass care solutions, behavioral solutions, specialty benefits and financial services. Serving nearly 60 million people, OptumHealth is one of the nation’s largest health and wellness companies. It is a business of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH). More information about OptumHealth can be found at www.optumhealth.com.

About American Well
American Well has created a new health care marketplace where consumers and physicians can come together online to acquire and provide convenient and immediate health care services. Using the latest technologies in Web communications and digital telephony, American Well extends traditional health care services to the home setting. American Well is committed to supporting health plans in meeting consumer and employer demand for affordable, efficient and immediate access to quality care. For more information, visit www.americanwell.com.

* Gartner Predicts 2009: Healthcare IT Moves from Transactional to Transformational. By Vi Shaffer, Thomas J. Handler, M.D., Jonathan Edwards, Barry Runyon, January 27, 2009.

American Well Teams with Minnesota Firm to Offer Online Medical Consultations Directly to Consumers | Xconomy

Related Reading:

American Well – Video Consults for Physicians

American Well Video Physician Conferencing becoming available in Minnesota

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