Cigna, MDLive offer 24/7 video consults

Customers to get on-demand access to physicians for non-emergency issues

Cigna has announced that it will enlist the help of MDLIVE, a developer of telehealth technology and services, to offer eligible health plan members round-the-clock online video consultations with internal medicine, family practice and pediatric doctors.

MDLIVE's telehealth network offers integrated software that enables health information to be easily captured and transferred to a patient's primary physician. MDLIVE physicians are state-licensed, U.S. Board Certified and have an average of 15 years of practical experience, officials say.

Under this initiative, eligible Cigna customers will be able to choose an appointment time or request to speak to an available healthcare professional on demand – with a reported average response time of 11 minutes – for non-emergency medical issues such as cold and flu, rashes, sinus issues and headaches.

"MDLIVE's telehealth services enable our increasingly mobile and time-constrained customers to schedule a virtual consult with a board certified physician and resolve a non-emergency medical issue in less than one hour," said Jackie Aube, the head of product development at Cigna, in a press statement. "It's cost-effective and convenient for minor illnesses such as allergies, pink eye and sinus infections."

Cigna will begin offering the MDLIVE program to several self-insured employers interested in testing this approach with their employees as part of their health program effective January 1, 2014, officials say.

"We have a closely shared vision for bringing the best technology to bear on providing consumers with an experience never before seen in healthcare that focuses on each person as an individual, accessible where and when they want it, and in a confidential and convenient virtual environment," said Randy Parker, CEO of MDLIVE, in a statement. "We are proud to work with Cigna and look forward to a relationship that will literally re-define how quality health care can be available to all, and on their own terms."

[See also: Cigna offers virtual house calls]