Cigna announced this week that it is expanding access to telehealth services via the virtual care company MDLIVE.
The announcement follows the acquisition of MDLIVE earlier this year by Cigna health services subsidiary Evernorth.
“With MDLIVE now part of Evernorth, we’ve fast-tracked our ability to offer a broader suite of differentiated, future-state care solutions that make the patient experience easier and more convenient,” said Eric Palmer, president of Evernorth, in a statement.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant step forward for millions of health plan customers who will gain on-demand access to a wider range of highly-specialized, in-network health care professionals,” Palmer continued.
WHY IT MATTERS
Beginning in January of next year, Cigna enrollees in employer-sponsored plans can get routine care, sick visits, prescription refills or follow-up services via telehealth through MDLIVE’s network of primary care providers.
Patients can also access virtual dermatology services, allowing them to get feedback from a healthcare professional within an average of 15 hours. They can be referred to other in-network specialists, such as behavioral care, and receive orders for lab work and biometrics at in-network facilities.
In addition, MDLIVE physicians will have access to patients’ health information, aimed at providing a more connected, coordinated experience.
The companies cite the success of a virtual wellness screening program launched last year, through which they say two-thirds of patients identified a health condition.
Cigna also announced the launch of a “virtual-first” health plan to select employers, which include $0 copays with MDLIVE primary care providers, comprehensive chronic condition management and care navigation.
The plans require no referrals for in-person visits with in-network healthcare providers.
A representative for Cigna told Healthcare IT News that patients can choose to continue seeking care with an in-person doctor and standard cost share would apply.
“At Cigna, we are constantly innovating our plan designs to meet the needs of our customers while continuing to make healthcare more affordable, predictable and simple,” said Heather Dlugolenski, senior vice president for solutions at Cigna.
“Expanding into virtual-first health plans is the next step in providing a convenient and comprehensive care experience,” Dlugolenski added.
THE LARGER TREND
It also echoes the approach taken by disruptors to the health space such as Amazon Care, which recently began offering its app-based services to employers in all 50 states.
ON THE RECORD
“Together, we are creating a best-in-class, coordinated virtual care experience for millions of patients – improving each person’s unique health care journey with support from a wide network of providers,” said Dr. Cynthia Zelis, chief medical officer at MDLIVE