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Docs on Demand? There’s an app for that

Anyone who’s worn a fitbit knows that technology is playing an ever-increasing role in how we manage and track our health and fitness.

Using technology to manage patient care is not new, but the advent of interactive healthcare is improving access everyday, particularly for busy professionals and families who might not always have time to schedule in-person visits to resolve minor health issues.

A nasty vacation encounter with poison ivy might not rise to the level of an emergency room visit, but still might require professional advice, even on a Sunday evening, when most medical offices are closed.

Virtual care — interacting with a board-licensed physician online and onscreen — is an option that’s becoming more common. It also benefits the bottom line, for both patients and employers.

Forbes Technology reports “if everyone covered by an employer-sponsored health plan in the United States used telemedicine instead of visits to doctors offices, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities, employers would save $6 billion annually, according to a Towers Watson study.”

While telemedicine isn’t meant to replace emergency or trauma care, it can play a vital role in a patient’s ongoing health.

“Increasing access to primary care providers is an important part of our work to create a healthier Kentucky,” says Kentucky One Health strategist Kathy Love, “When convenient options to care are available, patients are more likely to seek help for common concerns, which prevents serious illnesses from developing.”

KentuckyOne Anywhere Care, launched in 2013, is a virtual care service that connects patients with primary care providers 24/7 by phone or video chat.

Using Anywhere Care, new or established patients can consult with board-certified family practice providers without leaving home—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patients request care online at KentuckyOneAnywhereCare.org or by calling a toll-free phone number. Following a request, patients receive a phone or video chat call from a provider within 30 minutes.

Anywhere Care providers can treat common conditions like colds and flu, sore throats, rashes, allergies, bladder infections and more. Providers may prescribe medications, if appropriate, recommend an over-the-counter medication or provide home care options. Providers do not prescribe or refill prescriptions for controlled substances such as narcotic pain relievers.

KentuckyOne Anywhere Care also provides a follow-up report to the patient’s KentuckyOne provider following a visit. If needed, the KentuckyOne Anywhere Care provider will refer patients to a KentuckyOne Health primary care provider or to an emergency department.

Kentucky is also one of the states that Anthem covers with its Live Health Online program. The program’s pitch is simple: “Sometimes you just need a doctor – whether you’re at home in the middle of the night or in the middle of a road trip…LiveHealth Online lets you have face-to-face conversations with a doctor on your computer or mobile device. It’s medical advice the moment you need it. No appointments. No waiting.”

And yes, there is an app for that.

This article also appears on page 8 of the January issue of the Hamburg Journal.

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