Archive for January 20th, 2010

Will Mercy Health Plans Be the Next to Implement Online Care?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

skypeAccording to Megan Johnson of U.S. News & World Report, “Visiting your doctor online is a virtual reality.”  The use of technology to connect doctors and patients in real time is spreading fast.  Not only is it convenient for both doctors and patients, it saves quite a bit of money.  Whether using a video camera to see the patient’s ailment or simply having it described, doctors are able to help patients avoid coming into the office nearly 95% of the time.  This saves patients on costly emergency room or urgent care visits off-hours or on the time it takes to schedule an appointment in a doctor’s office.  Not only can you compare health insurance programs offering these services, online care can be helpful to people who don’t have insurance because they usually just charge a flat fee for chatting with a doctor.

These tele-health technologies might be one of the things that can help slow down this steep increase in the cost of health care.  The Hawaii Medical Service Association and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota are two health care plans using these online technologies.  Patients enter medical information into an online database and are charged based on whether they carry the insurance or not.  Members of Mercy Health Plans may wonder if their carrier will implement these programs as well.  Online health care allows patients and doctors to correspond via email, review lab results, refill prescriptions, and make appointments more easily.  This new wave of “visiting” the doctor online seems to be the next step in health care.