Move aside, retailers? Hospitals offer 24/7 telemedicine service

Patients pay a flat fee for telehealth consult—unless they are sent to the ED

KentuckyOne Health this fall will begin offering around-the-clock access to doctors and nurses by webcam or telephone for a flat fee, an offering that could help the Louisville-based system compete with retail clinics and urgent-care centers.

KentuckyOne Anywhere Care will provide medical diagnoses and treatment 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Each consultation will cost $35, but the fee will be waived if the patient is referred to the ED or a primary care physician (PCP). The service will be become available to the health system's employees this month, and it will open to the general public in November.

And as with any other PCPs, KentuckyOne Anywhere Care providers will be able to prescribe medications, recommend over-the-counter drugs, or offer home care options.

"KentuckyOne Health's purpose is to expand access to quality health care, no matter where you live in the Commonwealth," said CEO Ruth Brinkley. KentuckyOne Anywhere Care gives consumers "new options for how and when they access health care" whenever they are feeling unwell, including "after hours, weekends and when you are traveling," she added.

An emerging trend for hospitals?

According to a release, KentuckyOne is among the first health care systems in the country to offer a comprehensive, around-the-clock telehealth service to patients.

KentuckyOne is offering the service through a partnership with Carena, a Seattle-based telehealth and home health care service. Carena offers a similar service at Franciscan Health System. As with KentuckyOne, the Tacoma, Wash., health system first offered the service to employees and then opened it to the public earlier this year.

Franciscan Health spokesperson Scott Thompson told Modern Healthcare that the service has been well-received, garnering a 92% patient satisfaction rate. He estimates that 276 ED visits were avoided among the hospital's 8,500 employees in the last two years (KentuckyOne Health release, 9/19; Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 9/20 [subscription required]).


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