Blue Shield individual members in eight northern California communities can receive care from remote specialists using video technology
SAN FRANCISCO, CA and ROSEVILLE, CA (March 5, 2014) --- Blue Shield of California and Adventist Health today announced a telehealth initiative to help individuals and families in rural northern California communities have faster, more convenient access to specialty care in their area. Many patients in these regions must currently drive long distances to seek specialty care due to a lack of local specialists. With this program, Blue Shield members can be diagnosed and treated by specialists from across the state through interactive video technology available at a local Adventist Health site. The telehealth collaboration will reduce travel time and expense for patients while increasing their access to high-quality care.
Blue Shield individual and family plan customers, including those who purchased coverage through Covered California, can seek specialty care not available in their areas through the telehealth network. Available specialties include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology (diabetes), pulmonology, rheumatology (arthritis), orthopedics, infectious disease, nephrology, gastroenterology, general surgery and spine surgery. The specialists are Adventist Health physicians and are contracted in the Blue Shield network. Patients can be referred by their local primary physician or can self-refer, make an appointment through a centralized care coordination call center, and go to their local Adventist Health location for their office visit.
Participating Adventist Health sites are located in the following cities in Covered California regions 1 and 2: Paradise, Clearlake, Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, St. Helena, Napa and Sonora. The member’s cost for a telehealth visit is the same as their plan’s co-pay/co-insurance amount for specialist visits with an in-network provider.
"Blue Shield is proud to launch this telehealth initiative with Adventist Health in order to increase access to specialty care to our exchange members in rural parts of northern California,” said Juan Davila, executive vice president for healthcare quality and affordability at Blue Shield of California. "This is just one more way that Blue Shield is working to fulfill its mission to provide access to high-quality, affordable healthcare across the state."
Each site location is equipped with specialized interactive video technology which allows the patient to see, hear and interact with their specialist. A clinical coordinator in the office assists the patient and utilizes diagnostic equipment including an electronic stethoscope, vital signs monitor, and high definition camera to send accurate data, images and audio to the specialist during the visit. The visits are private and confidential, with the patient’s information encrypted and transmitted through a highly secure connection on the Adventist Health secure data network.
"Adventist Health’s telehealth program will help ensure that patients get the care they need by providing access to specialists who are currently unavailable or poorly accessible in many rural markets," said Keith Doram, MD, vice president of clinical effectiveness and chief medical officer, Adventist Health. "This program makes getting appropriate care more convenient. Because telemedicine enables patients to get evaluated and treated sooner, it should enhance the patient experience and improve their health outcomes."
Blue Shield and Adventist Health intend to expand this initiative to more locations and to make the program available to additional Blue Shield membership later in 2014. This is the first of several telehealth programs that Blue Shield is developing to expand access to care for its members.
Blue Shield individual and family plan members interested in scheduling a telehealth visit should call 1-866-832-8218. Visit www.blueshieldca.com/telehealth for more information.
Adventist Health Contact: Peggy Martin, 916-781-4793 or Peggy.Martin@ah.org
Background on Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with three million members, 5,000 employees and $10.5 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California provides health, life, dental, vision and Medicare insurance and health care service plans in California. Blue Shield of California was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2012 and 2013. Since 2005, the company has contributed more than $200 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation, one of BusinessWeek's most generous corporate foundations. Contact your local agent or broker about Blue Shield of California products and services, or visit www.blueshieldca.com.
Background on Adventist Health
Adventist Health is a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,900 includes more than 21,200 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,200 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 180 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. Visit AdventistHealth.org for more information.