Friday, September 7, 2012

The Doctor Will See You…NOW

Yesterday I attended the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health’s 13th Annual Health Care Futures Symposium,2014: Planning for the Short Term, 2018: Preparing for the Long Haul.” An employer-led, non-profit coalition of large, mid-size, and small businesses, PBGH promotes education, collaboration and innovation to drive and deliver value and quality in health care.  The symposium truly delivered on the Business Group’s mission.  Kudos to PBGH’s executive director, Chris Whipple for bringing a national agenda to Pittsburgh and creating and bringing an engaging day of cutting edge ideas to the largest Symposium audience to date, over 400 people.   

As a proud sponsor of the Symposium and a company committed to growing its business presence in the Pittsburgh community, UnitedHealth Group’s OptumHealth division, in partnership with Rite-Aid, presented its NowClinic initiative to the group.

As I mentioned in a previous post, NowClinic, which is available in 22 states, is a website where consumers can log on to their computer and connect with a physician using secure live chat and converse face-to-face using webcams. Doctors can review the patient’s health concerns and symptoms, discuss medications and assess the need for further treatment when necessary. In Pittsburgh and Harrisburg Pennsylvania, in addition to being able to log in from home, consumers can log in at their local Rite Aid stores. Many say virtual care concepts like NowClinic are transforming the delivery of primary health care by giving consumers access to inexpensive, round-the-clock care for routine problems, until they are able to see their primary care physician.  This is especially important in rural areas where primary care physicians can be scarce and in urban areas where it can be nearly impossible to get a same day appointment with your doctor.

How many times have you suffered through the weekend with routine sinus infection, nagging cough or bladder infection until you could get an appointment with your doctor on Monday? With its convenience and affordability, $45 per visit, the Now Clinic is designed to address the all-too-common occurrence of avoiding the doctor’s office because of time or money constraints, and addresses medical concerns early before they grow into more serious – and costly – problems. To date, the average Now Clinic user is over age 40, needs service during the weekend and visits with the Now Clinic doctor online for just under 9 minutes.
UnitedHealthcare’s Now Clinic project with Rite Aid  is a clear sign of health care’s future direction in the age of reform. The next decade will be all about creative partnerships and taking advantage of technical innovations to transform the delivery of primary health care with a stronger focus on preventative care and more engaged and better-informed consumers. 

To view a demonstration of how the Now Clinic concept works and read what USA Today said about the virtual doctor concept go to
A clear sign of health care's future direction - taking advantage of technical innovations to supplement primary care

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