Partners roll out telemedicine services


John Deveau. Courtesy Answer Health on Demand

A pair of local health care organizations have partnered to offer on-demand telemedicine services.

Answer Health partnered with Emergency Care Specialists to launch Answer Health on Demand, a joint venture, earlier this month to allow patients access 24/7 health care online.

Answer Health in Grand Rapids is a “clinically integrated organization” formed to support independent physicians from across several physician organizations in West Michigan.

Grand Rapids-based Emergency Care Specialists is a physician owned and physician-governed emergency medicine practice serving West Michigan. 

Telemedicine service

Answer Health on Demand allows patients suffering from common conditions to immediately see a certified provider live via secure two-way video with a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Patients can see a doctor from their homes, offices or elsewhere.  

One benefit of the service is that it offers patients comprehensive clinical services from independent practices collaborating on one platform.

The service will include 24/7 urgent care, primary care, behavioral health, specialty care, such as orthopedics and pediatrics, and wellness programming. 

The telemedice sessions are $45 and covered by most Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health insurance plans. 

Dr. John Deveau, medical director of Emergency Care Specialists and Answer Health on Demand, said the new telemedicine service was created “to give community members access to high-quality care and direction, along with improved convenience and affordability.”

Patients can access the service through the Answer Heath on Demand website, as well as a free mobile app that's compatbile with Apple and Android devices.

The service is powered by American Well, a telemedicine technology and services company.

Technology for indepedent physicians

The platform will help independent physicians compete in an environment that is becoming more difficult, as more physicians join large hospital systems.

“Answer Health on Demand is a collaborative environment, which provides practitioners with a cost-effective way to integrate telemedicine into their practices,” said Karen Bigelow, marketing director, Answer Health on Demand. “This helps the smaller practices, which are typically starved for resources, adopt innovative technologies that help them remain competitive with large health systems.”

Bigelow said the service’s goal is to grow “steadily” over the first year and have 10 practices on board by the beginning of 2017, with each practice seeing about 200 patients each month.

She said there is no limit to how many practices can join the platform.

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