- Anthem, Samsung Electronics America and American Well are teaming up to bring 24/7 telehealth services to consumers.
- People with an Anthem-affiliated health plan and the latest Samsung Health app on their Samsung Galaxy device can now access American Well’s LiveHealth Online to video chat with a care provider, according to Monday’s announcement.
- Using the Samsung app, consumers can consult with experts in a variety of subspecialties. The updated app also includes fitness training, maternity advice and sleep tracking.
Payers and providers are looking for savings while ensuring access to care and improving patient outcomes. Consumers want care that fits easily into their busy lifestyles. Telehealth partnerships such as this one could satisfy all of those objectives.
Humana recently released data showing that telemedicine visits paid out at an average of $76 less than in-person visits during a yearlong pilot with Doctor on Demand. Follow-up visits after virtual encounters were comparable to in-office appointments, and doctors had a lower rate of prescribing antibiotics.
In a KLAS Research/CHIME survey published last fall, a majority of healthcare organizations with existing telehealth programs said they plan to expand telehealth use. They cited the technology’s convenience, impact on outcomes and lower costs as key reasons for doing so. More than half (56%) of the virtual visits their programs supported were for telespecialty consultations. Scheduled/patient-focused visits and on-demand/consumer-focused visits comprised 38% and 36%, respectively, of virtual care platform visits.
The chief barrier to telehealth expansion, according to respondents, was reimbursement. Nearly 60% said getting paid was the biggest deterrent to expanding their program, followed by cost/resources (34%), patient/provider awareness (25%) and licensing/regulation (20%).
And while telehealth still suffers somewhat from a consumer awareness standpoint, that is starting to change. In a 2017 survey by American Well, 20% of consumers said they would switch their primary care provider to get access to telehealth services.
Apple has also been pushing people to use mobile devices to help manage their care. Earlier this year, the company announced iPhone users would be able to view their medical records on the Health app, and has partnered with more than 500 hospitals and clinics on the endeavor. Apple opened the Health Records API last month in the hopes of creating "an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more."
Samsung users can access LiveHealth Online on their mobile device and select the “Experts” tab for a provider.
Nana Murugesan, vice president and general manager for services and new business strategy at Samsung Electronics America, said in the year since Experts was launched, users have moved beyond simple ailments like colds and coughs and are using the service for more advanced telehealth consults like high blood pressure and flu.