As published in Forbes, July 23, 2018
By Bruce Japsen
Anthem, the nation's second largest health insurer, is working with Samsung Electronics America and telehealth provider American Well to expand access to virtual doctor visits and other non-emergency healthcare 24 hours a day to its health plan members.
Anthem, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states said Monday that consumers with an Anthem affiliated health plan and the updated Samsung Health app can now access “LiveHealth Online” within Anthem. Samsung Health’s “experts” service connects consumers with U.S. based, board-certified health care providers for a wide variety of non-emergency medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LiveHealth Online “is powered by American Well’s technology” and allows health plan members to consult with a healthcare provider via video chat, the companies said.
“Anthem’s partnership with Samsung and American Well is one way we are investing in innovation and digital capabilities that will advance access to healthcare for consumers across the country,” Anthem’s Executive Vice President and President, Commercial and Specialty Business Division Peter Haytaian said. Financial terms of the collaboration weren’t disclosed.
Telehealth services are taking off as a health benefit for Americans of all ages across the country. Seniors in particular will soon be gaining more access to telehealth thanks to the approval this year by Congress of a federal budget that includes expanded access to virtual doctor visits for Americans covered by private Medicare Advantage plans.
It is expected to be a huge boon to American Well and rivals like MDLive and Teladoc and an array of startups getting into the business of offering access to physicians and patients via smart phone, tablet or computer. Employers and private insurers are already embracing the trend as a way to make healthcare more convenient and avoid costly and unnecessary trips to the emergency room or a more expensive physician’s office.
Anthem, which operates Medicare Advantage plans, is amid intense competition with Humana, Aetna, United Health Group, Cigna and others for seniors interested in enrolling in MA plans.
“Our goal with Samsung Health’s ‘Experts’ service is to provide users with ubiquitous access to leading healthcare providers and insurers quickly and cost effectively, right from the palm of their hands,” said Nana Murugesan, Vice President & General Manager, Services & New Business at Samsung Electronics America. “When we launched Experts just one year ago, our users were mostly using the service for everyday illnesses like the colds and coughs. Now our users are increasingly using the service for more advanced telehealth treatments such as the flu, high blood pressure and insomnia, as we expand our relationships with leaders in the healthcare industry."
Dr. Ido Schoenberg, American Well's Chairman and CEO said the collaboration "is designed to create a streamlined patient experience without compromising on care quality, choice, affordability and convenience."