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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield drives online doctor visits

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering members around-the-clock medical access from the convenience of any location with LiveHealth Online, an online care service that provides live video visits with doctors via mobile, tablet or desktop devices.

Consumers can chat with board-certified, United States-based doctors regarding non-emergency medical matters, such as diagnoses for colds, aches, allergies and infections. LiveHealth Online first launched in 2013 and has been expanding to most of Anthem?s health plan clients.

?The comments back to us about the service and the physicians have been incredibly positive,? said Joyzelle Davis, public relations director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Denver, CO. ?We?re available as a non-covered benefit in 44 states and available as part of a benefit in 11 states. Also, LiveHealth Online is available through Medicare Advantage plans in some states.?

Convenient visits
The service was established to provide the utmost convenience to consumers who may not have two to three hours to wait in doctor?s offices and take time out of their busy days. Customers can access visits from their home, college, office or vacation locations.

Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Consumers can also see a doctor on holidays.

For members, visits cost equal or less than a traditional primary care visit. Non-Anthem clients can also use LiveHealth Online by signing up and paying with a credit card. Doctors charge $49 for a LiveHealth Online medical visit.

The service also reminds patients that seeking care at the early onset of an illness can reduce severity and duration.

Healthcare on mobile
With an increasing amount of health care brands and sites adding mobile applications to their repertoires, the health care industry is quickly moving into the digital sector. Consumers appreciate quick, accurate information that yields fast results, which has led to the rise of sites such as WebMD (see story).

?This is already evident through the number of apps available and the launch of Apple?s HealthKit and Health App,? Ms. Davis said.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield claim that online care for non-emergency situations is typically less expensive than primary care visits or urgent care clinics.

Patients can also refill prescriptions via the service. Prescription refill apps have also been taking the mobile world by storm (see story).

After a client completes a medical visit, a summary is created and can be forwarded to the client?s primary care doctor upon request.

LiveHealth Online also aims to lessen the burden for primary care doctors. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will have almost 63,000 fewer doctors than needed.

Consumers can access the service through livehealthonline.com or its mobile and tablet-optimized app, available for Android and iOS. Guests have the option of having a two-way video conference with the doctor of their choice, or asking questions via instant messaging.

?Our latest survey from Aug-Sept. 2014, showed the following: 87 percent of users were satisfied with their visit on LiveHealth Online, and 88 percent of users would use the service again, consistent with previous months,? Ms. Davis said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York