UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) Health Plan recently launched a new smartphone-enabled UPMC AnywhereCare platform that allows patients to receive remote care from emergency room professionals 24 hours a day and with reduced copays.
Using the video camera on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, patients ages three and older with a variety of non-emergency symptoms ranging from sore throats and upper respiratory illnesses to back pain and seasonal allergies, can be seen face-to-face by a healthcare professional who will assess the symptoms and recommend a personal treatment plan, just like a traditional in-office visit. UPMC officials point out that AnywhereCare is available anytime, anywhere, with healthcare professionals always on call. Indeed, the service is provided without the typical time needed to schedule a health care appointment or the additional hassles of traffic or parking.
The platform launched as a desktop version in November 2016, at which time it was made available for UPMC Health Plan consumers only. But now, the app version is available to all patients in the state. Since its launch, satisfaction with AnywhereCare has ranked highly among consumers, with patients rating the overall experience 4.8 out of 5, according to UPMC officials. And, the average wait time for AnywhereCare services is just over six-and-a-half minutes—shorter wait time than a typical physician's visit. Following each patient evaluation, if needed, healthcare professionals are able to send prescriptions directly to the patient's pharmacy so that treatment can begin immediately.
“UPMC members and patients now have access to a UPMC physician, 24 hours a day, seven days a week through their computer or mobile device," Kim Jacobs, vice president of consumer innovation at UPMC Health Plan, said in a statement. "Consumers are seeking convenient and high quality care, when and where they need it. Using AnywhereCare, patients can initiate a visit with a UPMC physician without traveling to an office or taking time off of work. AnywhereCare visits are low cost, typically about half the cost of a health care plan copay, and they allow patients within Pennsylvania to be cared for by UPMC clinicians in their homes, at work, or on the road."
The cost of an AnywhereCare visit is between $10 and $49, depending on insurance coverage. Medically-appropriate prescriptions, if needed, must be paid separately by the patient.
"The platform allows patients to use technology to be seen by doctors more quickly," added Jacobs. "AnywhereCare also helps to free the backlog in doctor's offices, urgent care facilities, and hospital emergency rooms and allows doctors to spend more time with patients who suffer from chronic conditions. Nearly 90 percent of patient issues are resolved during the AnywhereCare virtual visit and do not require follow-up care."
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