Doctors from UCLA Health System will be available on your smartphone, tablet or laptop beginning this week through LiveHealth Online, a telehealth solution for business travelers, busy parents, students away at college or anybody else who needs non-emergency medical attention when their own doctors are not available.
“LiveHealth Online represents a true shift in health care delivery by using technology to make health care easier to access and more consumer friendly,” said John Jesser, vice president of provider engagement strategy for Anthem Blue Cross. “We’re delighted to have UCLA doctors join us to provide high-quality and needed medical care to consumers using the LiveHealth Online mobile app and website.”
Doctors are available on LiveHealth Online 24 hours, 365 days a year, including holidays, and UCLA physicians will join the pool of doctors for users to choose. When consumers select their physician for the visit, they will be able to see which physicians are part of UCLA Health System. Due to demand or other circumstances, a UCLA doctor may not always be available for a consumer to select; in those cases, users can choose another board-certified physician or wait until a UCLA doctor becomes available. UCLA doctors are not expected to be online 24 hours a day.
“What we need in health care is multiple avenues of access,” said Dr. Samuel Skootsky, chief medical officer of the UCLA Faculty Practice Group and Medical Group. “Showing up in a doctor’s office is one way. You can show up in an ER, but that’s expensive and it’s unnecessary for many simple problems. You can also show up in an urgent care facility. LiveHealth Online is another, more convenient way for people to access health care. We think this has value and that patients find this convenient, and I suspect that this kind of connection with the health care system will only grow over time.”
LiveHealth Online offers a secure means of reaching board-certified, primary care doctors from almost anywhere, making it ideal for consumers who find it inconvenient to leave work or home to go to a doctor’s office.
For non-urgent medical conditions, an online doctor visit can be more convenient and affordable than a visit to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. Patients can initiate video visits from their home or workplace at any time through a computer, smart phone or tablet. The cost is $49 per visit, but it may be a covered benefit for Anthem Blue Cross members.
Patients typically use online care visits to communicate with a doctor about colds, aches, sore throats, allergies and infections, as well as for wellness and nutrition advice. A summary of each visit is created, and with consumers’ permission, it can be forwarded to their primary care doctor — supporting continuity of care and collaboration among providers.
Telehealth is a widely accepted mode of health communication, especially in rural areas where people may have to drive hours to visit a doctor. Even in urban areas, a trip to the doctor may take an hour or more, depending on traffic.
A November 2012 University of Pittsburgh study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that e-visits — using email and electronic patient health records only — had similar outcomes to in-person visits for treating sinus and urinary tract infections.
As doctors participate in accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, LiveHealth Online can offer their patients an alternative to unnecessary and costly ER and urgent care visits. It can also lessen the burden on primary care doctors who are increasingly feeling the pressure from the growing doctor shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed.
Consumers can access the service through LiveHealthOnline.com or on an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet using the free app. It is secure, private, easy to use and affordable. LiveHealth Online is the trade name of Health Management Corporation.