WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the state prepares to expand access to care through the Affordable Care Act, Anthem Blue Cross’ telehealth network recently marked an important milestone by successfully providing over 50,000 specialty consults – connecting members in some of the state’s most rural underserved areas to needed health care services.
With more than 80 percent of the state designated as rural, Anthem recognized that the development of a telemedicine network could effectively help connect their members with some of the state’s top specialists located at notable medical centers and universities. Nearly 14 years later, Anthem officials and providers alike agree that telemedicine continues to be an effective way to provide access to care for individuals who do not have access to specialty care in their communities. Today, Anthem’s network can connect members with more than 26 specialties including: behavioral health, cardiology, dermatology, diabetic retinopathy, neurology and pediatrics.
While Anthem originally launched its telemedicine program to serve a growing Medi-Cal population, over time the telehealth network has been used by a variety of Anthem members and in fact, has been used by other health plans without a network of their own, thereby creating greater access to specialty care for all residents in the state.
“We’ve long understood the needs of providing our Medi-Cal members in rural areas with access to care,” said Steve Melody, regional vice president of Anthem’s Medicaid business. “And, as we look to continue our partnership with the state on the upcoming expansion of Medi-Cal to an additional 25 counties, we are confident that our telemedicine program will play a vital role in connecting members with much needed health care services.”
San Francisco-based Medical Dermatologist Marc Goldyne, MD, PhD, FAAD has successfully used telemedicine to treat patients over the past 12 years and agrees that continued use and greater acceptance has encouraged physicians to use the technology. “The advances made in the telehealth technologies has removed the obstacle of distance -- as long as healthcare personnel have secure internet access, we can effectively provide needed specialty consultations for primary providers and their patients,” said Dr. Goldyne. “As we look to expand access to care, telemedicine will become an essential tool for healthcare delivery. Access to specialty expertise and care will be available throughout the State and eventually throughout the nation.”
Beyond providing access to care, Anthem’s network is also helping to connect health practitioners and the local community in a variety of settings. The network has already been utilized for more than 7,000 non-clinical consults. Registered nurses have used the network to receive Continued Medical Education (CME) where access to a local colleges is not available; cancer support groups have used the network to discuss treatment and recovery options, and rural primary care physicians have relied on the technology to discuss difficult cases with specialists.
“Our experience and collaboration with providers who have readily accepted telemedicine is also positive and helps to reinforce that as telemedicine continues to expand and flourish, we can use telehealth as an alternate and supplemental delivery system to encourage wellness and prevention for our members throughout the state,” added Melody.
Anthem’s program offers 62 presentation sites and 20 specialty centers that include notable medical centers UC Davis Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center and UC San Francisco Medical Center and most recently the addition of UC San Diego Medical Center.
About Anthem Blue Cross:
Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. ® ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company is available at www.anthem.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.