New York Blues launch on-demand online care

By Mike Miliard
10:33 AM

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (BCBSWNY) and BlueShield of Northeastern New York (BSNENY) announced Wednesday the initial launch of Online Care NY, a new service which offers on-demand healthcare services to eligible members and employers.

Officials made the announcement at the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) industry conference in Las Vegas. The launch represents the completion of the service's 90-day operational implementation and begins its rollout, first to the payers' employees and charter physician group, on August 1. The plan member launch for Western New York will take place on September 1, with the Northeastern New York launch following by year-end 2010.

Online Care NY, powered by Boston-based American Well's telehealth technology, will enable eligible members to have immediate live encounters with credentialed physicians from the plans’ established provider networks. Patients can make these connections from their homes or workplaces at any time, by Internet or telephone.

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In the wake of the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "thirty-seven million more Americans will seek care in a system that is already struggling with a shortage of providers," said Alphonso O’Neil-White, president and CEO of BCBSWNY/BSNENY. "For reform to succeed, we must offer new ways to access care. For patients, Online Care NY provides immediate and convenient access to care. For physicians, it means having more time to spend on in-office visits with patients who need face time, while also enabling providers to take care of the day-to-day health concerns – online or telephonically – of other patients."

During live interactions, doctors are able to speak with and see patients, review clinical information, prescribe medications as appropriate and suggest follow-up care.

"Through Online Care NY, our plans are addressing the very real need to transform how, when, and where we receive care," said O'Neil-White. "Without it, physicians will become even more overwhelmed while patients ignore healthcare needs or continue to inappropriately use urgent care. Now, both physicians and patients alike have an option that better meets their changing needs."

The addition of Online Care NY is aligned with the plans’ goal of leading the evolution of healthcare: how people access it, how they engage with it, how they can best serve all of their customers, and creating experiences that inspire better health.

"In this time of healthcare transformation, our goal is to provide our members and providers with a support bridge to 2014," when most PPACA provisions take effect, said Cynthia A. Ambres, MD, MS, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSWNY/BSNENY. "With Online Care NY, we have an opportunity to have a real impact by improving access while enabling patients to have their issues addressed in the most appropriate and convenient setting, avoiding unneeded use of urgent care."

"We are proud to support BCBSWNY/BSNENY in achieving its goals for healthcare reform," said Ido Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well. "Within a short three months, Online Care NY has become foundational to BCBSWNY/BSNENY’s vision for improved care delivery to its communities."


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