Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare and Sunrise, Fla.-based MDLIVE have forged a partnership that will deliver secure, real-time medical consultations to patients with an established regional network of physicians who will be accessible through telephone and online video throughout the state of Virginia, the companies recently announced.
Sentara Healthcare will have an equity stake in the privately-held telehealth firm, and the platform will increase the company’s patient capacity, making the agreement timely as more than 1 million uninsured Virginians will gain access to health insurance in 2014 under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
MDLIVE services are already available to consumers through MDLIVE.com. The new Sentara option will launch to Virginia consumers in October and will give Sentara employees and members of selected Optima Health commercial insurance plans the ability to receive this service as an additional benefit throughout the course of 2013.
“Healthcare is changing due to a variety of factors, including advances in digital technology, physician shortages, increased access to insurance and high deductible plans, decreased reimbursement and patient population management needs,” Sentara CEO David Bernd said in a statement. “This collaboration expands access to care to hundreds of thousands of residents in our core and neighboring markets as well as offers them an alternate delivery option. [W]ith an equity stake in MDLIVE, we become not just another client, but rather a partner focused on paving the way for future advances in virtual healthcare delivery.”
Patients in the system, including seniors, will be able to use MDLIVE’s virtual consult platform to directly access licensed Sentara or partner physicians who will diagnose low-acuity illnesses such as allergies or urinary tract infections and provide care as appropriate, including prescriptions. If prescriptions are necessary, MDLIVE can send them electronically through its connection to more than 60,000 pharmacies. Those with more serious conditions will be directed to the nearest immediate care facility as appropriate.
The partnership is a “giant leap forward” in the technology driven evolution of medicine, says John Sculley, a board member at MDLIVE and the former CEO of Apple.
“We are at a transformational moment in healthcare driven by the demand for quality care and access and the capabilities of new technologies,” Sculley said in the statement. “The partnership between MDLIVE and Sentara Healthcare sets the stage for expanding access to new modes of healthcare delivery that can benefit patients, the healthcare industry and the nation.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace