Walgreen, MDLive Expand Virtual Telehealth Service to Three States

June 19, 2015 in News

Last week, Walgreen and telemedicine company MDLive announced a new virtual doctor service that will allow patients in five states to use their computers and tablets to connect with doctors, USA Today reports (Weintraub, USA Today, 6/17).

Background

In December 2014, Walgreen and MDLive partnered to launch a mobile application to provide virtual doctor visits to pharmacy customers in California and Michigan.  With the app, users can see a board-certified physician via video chat for common ailments, such as upper respiratory infections, ear aches, sore throats and rashes. Appointments cost $49. Typically, MDLive virtual visits last about 15 minutes, and physicians may write prescriptions, when appropriate. However, the virtual visits are not intended to replace a yearly visit to a primary care doctor (iHealthBeat, 12/10/14).

Telehealth Service Details

The new service will expand the mobile platform to pharmacy customers in Colorado, Illinois and Washington (Walgreen release, 6/10).

In addition to the mobile app, pharmacy customers will be able to access the virtual doctor visit platform on their computers or tablets.

MDLive CEO Randy Parker said customers are screened using a basic algorithm, which takes into account their medical histories and symptoms, to ensure they are appropriate candidates for virtual visits.

According to a release, Walgreen said it plans to expand the service to 20 additional states by the end of the year.

Reaction

Joseph Kvedar, vice president of Partners HealthCare’s Connected Health, said virtual care can be effective for follow-up care, particularly mental health visits, by allowing providers to see patients in a natural environment.

Meanwhile, Robert Wergin, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, also said he sees potential for virtual care. However, he raised concerns about the possibility for miscommunication and the lack of reimbursement, since many insurers do not yet cover for virtual visits (USA Today, 6/17).

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