Blue Shield of California To Launch Online Consultation Program Next Year
Blue Shield of California next year will launch a program to reimburse physicians for online consultations, a service few health insurers offer their members, American Medical News reports. Although Blue Shield has not released details, company officials expect that the program will save as much as $3 million per month. Blue Shield decided to launch the program after a Stanford University study found that health insurers could save more than $1 per member per month through online consultations. The study also found that online consultation programs that allow physicians to address prescription refill requests and other "nonurgent health care needs" over the Internet could allow doctors to treat more patients, according to Dr. Eric Liederman, medical director for clinical information systems at the University of California-Davis health plan. The study, commissioned by Blue Shield and ConnectiCare, is the first to measure the cost benefit of online consultation programs. "My guess is there will be a significant movement in the next two years" toward online consultation programs, Michael Barrett, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said. "For the payer this is a matter of getting the health care delivered via a cheaper medium," he added (Chin, American Medical News, 11/25).
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