HealthPartners launches 24/7 online clinic
HealthPartners, the nation's largest consumer-governed, nonprofit healthcare organization, has launched virtuwell. The healthcare insurer describes it as "a new convenience care service offering online diagnosis and treatment of simple medical conditions."
The service created by HealthPartners and developed by partner AKQA combines medical expertise with the convenience of 24/7 online access to care - including prescriptions if needed.
"We're always looking for new ways to provide our employees and their families the right kinds of healthcare while helping to manage costs"
HealthPartners executives say the new service extends HealthPartners delivery of affordable, quality care, offering a low-cost, convenient alternative to office visits, e-visits, and phone consultations for routine conditions that don't require an in-person examination.
"Our customers tell us they want quality healthcare that's simple, friendly, convenient and affordable," said Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners president and CEO. "Our commitment is to find innovative ways to meet these needs. With virtuwell, HealthPartners is able to provide individuals yet another option to access quality care."
At virtuwell.com, experienced nurse practitioners are available online - on demand and around the clock - to provide personalized diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and prescriptions for conditions such as cold, cough and allergy, ear pain, yeast and urinary tract infection.
"HealthPartners Clinics offer a wide-range of specialties and services and virtuwell is one more example of bringing care to consumers in a new way that respects their personal choices and busy lives," said Brian Rank, MD, medical director of HealthPartners Medical Group. "We've made clinical excellence a foundational element by creating this new way to deliver highly reliable and evidenced-based care. It's a natural evolution of the 50 years of healthcare delivery and payment innovations in our heritage."
Users receive a rapid diagnosis and treatment plan and a prescription if necessary for $40 or less, depending on the customer's insurance coverage. Customers do not need to be HealthPartners health plan members to use virtuwell, and the list of participating insurers will be updated regularly at virtuwell.com. The service is now available to customers living in or visiting Minnesota, and extension of the service to additional locations is planned.
During the development of virtuwell, HealthPartners offered previews of the service and gathered feedback from a number of major employers, including Polaris Industries and Andersen Corporation.
"We're always looking for new ways to provide our employees and their families the right kinds of healthcare while helping to manage costs," said Danielle Thorvilson, Benefits/HRIS manager, of Minnesota-based Polaris Industries. "Many of our employees live and work outside of major cities and have had relatively limited options for lower-cost, on-demand, 24/7 care. The introduction of virtuwell extends the options of care available to our employees, and we're pleased to support it."
Kathy Prondzinski, corporate benefits design director at Andersen Corporation, said, "When an employee has a minor medical condition, they want to get better quickly with little inconvenience, the least down time and at the lowest cost. As a large employer, we want to support these needs, which is why virtuwell is so appealing to us," she said. "We are pleased our employees now have a new choice for receiving high-quality care from a strong organization like HealthPartners."
The new service available at virtuwell.com was developed by HealthPartners in conjunction with the global firm AKQA, an award-winning ad agency recognized for its innovation in creative and technology. With a focus on streamlining digital medicine, HealthPartners and AKQA partnered to develop a software application that would assist nurse practitioners to provide accurate quality care with an effective set of questions. AKQA and HealthPartners also collaborated to create a fresh and seamless consumer user experience, while balancing strict regulatory healthcare laws to secure personal health and payment information.