Highmark, a Blue Cross-Blue Shield operation based in Pittsburgh, has launched a pilot telehealth program for a sampling of its 4.8 million members.
The payor is partnering with telehealth provider Teladoc, whose board-certified physicians will treat participating Highmark members for minor illnesses and injuries over the phone for $38, according to a statement.
Members access the service by completing a medical history disclosure form and then requesting doctor visits as needed. Highmark said the average callback time is 22 minutes from the patient’s request. The results of the consultation are sent to the patient’s primary care physician as long as the patient grants permission.
The service is not designed to replace members’ regular physicians. “In fact, extensive use will be monitored as part of the pilot,” said Highmark. Some 10,000 members from western Pennsylvania and West Virginia have access to Teladoc physicians, including pediatricians, during the pilot.
Following the pilot, Highmark plans to invite more of its network physicians to participate. It also intends to offer telehealth to its members as a covered benefit in the third quarter of 2012.
The company did not say whether it will offset any part of the $38 fee for pilot participants or whether fee payments will apply toward members’ deductibles or coinsurance.
Teladoc has corporate offices in Dallas and Greenwich, Conn.