BOSTON — March 11, 2015 — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is partnering with American Well® on its new telemedicine program, WellConnection. The pilot program enables select patients to engage with their health care provider through online video, instead of going to the doctor's office.
Health care providers in the two-year pilot will assess and treat patients with select health conditions using video visits. For example, some may use it for check-ins to monitor recovery from concussions, others may use video visits for wellness coaching, to follow up with patients on certain medications, or to check-in after a procedure or hospitalization to monitor recovery and help prevent rehospitalizations.
"Massachusetts is known for its innovation in the health care sector and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is at the forefront when it comes to telehealth," said Ido Schoenberg, MD, Chairman and CEO of American Well. "Blue Cross is giving its health care providers an innovative tool that provides patients with access to care outside an office setting - including in the convenience of their own homes."
The WellConnection pilot launches with two physician groups from Blue Cross' Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), Emerson Physician Hospital Organization (Emerson PHO) and Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization (LGPHO), as well as dedicated Blue Cross nurse care managers. The AQC is an innovative payment model that promotes quality and rewards physicians and hospitals for positive health outcomes. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the AQC has improved the quality of patient care and lowered costs in the four years since it was first implemented.
"We are always identifying ways to make it easier for our patients to receive the best medical care," said Dr. Gregory Martin, Chief Medical Officer of Emerson Hospital. "We are excited to have several physician practices pilot WellConnection to deliver care in the most convenient way for our patients. Leveraging the latest technology enables us to be accessible to patients in particular, well-defined circumstances — even when it is not easy for them to visit the office. All they will need is a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer and they can have a valuable visit with their provider through the power of telemedicine."
Mill City Medical Group, Ltd (MCMG) of Lowell and the office of Damian Folch, MD of Chelmsford are the participating practices for Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization. Emerson PHO is identifying its participating practices.
"We are very excited for the opportunity to be on the forefront of embracing new technology and piloting telemedicine in our offices," said Dr. Pauline Tsirigotis, LGPHO Medical Director and physician at MCMG. "We will be able to evaluate firsthand the adoption of telemedicine, the ease of use for our physicians and patients, as well as any impact on the quality of patient care as the telemedicine program gets implemented this March."
"Telemedicine enhances my ability to reach out to my patients and help them in their quest for health and wellness," said Dr. Folch. "This is another way in which Blue Cross continues to empower patients to take care of their health in a completely different and expanded way."
"The value of telemedicine will be fully realized when physician, patient and health plan goals are aligned — which is why we are offering this program with select physicians in our Alternative Quality Contract (AQC)," said Gregory LeGrow, Director of Network Innovation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. "These health care providers are already making great strides in this area to improve patient care outcomes."
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (www.bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are the trusted health plan for more than 30,000 Massachusetts employers and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we are rated among the nation's best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
About American Well
American Well is a telehealth services company that brings healthcare into the homes and workplaces of patients. The Company's web and mobile telehealth platform connects patients and clinicians for live, clinically meaningful visits through video, supplemented by secure text chat and phone. American Well, Amwell, and Amwell Therapy Associates are trademarks of American Well Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks used are the property of their respective owners. For more information, visit www.americanwell.com.
About Emerson Hospital
Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.
About Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization
The Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization (PHO) is a non-profit organization comprised of approximately 350 member physicians and our hospital partner, Lowell General Hospital. The PHO was established in 1995 with the goal of developing a local, integrated delivery system providing outstanding quality care to patients in the Greater Lowell area.