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WellPoint Sees Telehealth As First Mobile Step

Wellpoint's app, LiveHealth Online, which lets patients reach doctors without an office visit, is expected to be mobile-ready by the end of the year.

WellPoint’s new LiveHealth Online telehealth tool isn’t on mobile quite yet, but it will be by the end of the year, according to John Jesser, VP of patient engagement strategy.

Currently available through a PC portal, LiveHealth Online allows policyholders to connect with a doctor for minor health issues without having to go to the office.

“We in no way want to discourage anyone from going to a doctor’s office, but there are just times of the day or night the doctor can’t get you in,” Jesser says.

WellPoint (Indianapolis, Ind.; $2.65 billion in net income in 2011) partnered with Bos­ton-based American Well on the video link technology, which is being ported to a smartphone app that will go live by the end of 2013. Jesser says patients are asking for more anytime, anywhere access to physicians as time becomes a more precious commodity. In addition, more people are comfortable interacting with crucial partners online.

“The most important asset people have is our time, and so if you’re able to give someone some time back, you’ve done them a great favor,” Jesser says. “The best analogy I can use is banking. People would never have banked online years ago, and it’s now become mainstream.“

Security And Compliance Considerations

But part of making people comfortable with the new paradigm of patient-doctor interactions is building in safeguards. Jesser notes that consumers could turn to Skype or Apple’s FaceTime to interact with doctors virtually face to face.

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“But they’re not necessarily secure,” he says. “An insurance company has to do everything to follow HIPAA and make sure people’s privacy and security is intact.”

Within the secure LiveHealth Online application, policyholders can securely share medical information with the attending physician — including their already-online previous claim information — receive medical alerts and get prescriptions.

“One thing that we plan to do is for patients that have Anthem is to have their health history available,” Jesser says. “Also, the patient can share with them any clinical information they want as they would if they walked into an urgent care center. And the doctor can have access to previous online visits.”

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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Anthony R. O'Donnell
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Anthony R. O'Donnell,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2013 | 9:07:49 PM
re: WellPoint Sees Telehealth As First Mobile Step
HIPAA will present some significant challenges. One hopes that mobile might push along some of the discontinuity problems rife in the healthcare/health insurance continuum. Most of us are still filling out paper forms every time we go to a doctor's office.
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