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Telemedicine Program Signals Bold Leadership on a Small Scale

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2012

Here are the details:

For a $30 annual membership fee, and a flat $38 charge for any one physician consultation, patients can connect with physicians pretty much immediately either by phone or video.

It's all run by partner Teladoc, which, Nagler says, has an excellent track record in developing and implementing telehealth services for health insurers and employers. It currently covers more than four million beneficiaries and employees in the U.S. Depending on when they need care, patients using the service may not always get a Continuum physician, but those physicians have first right of refusal. If no Continuum physicians are available, the call will roll to a physician in Teladoc's national database.

Nagler's not worried the service will siphon patients from physicians at Continuum.

"This specifically precludes a patient from developing a relationship through Teladoc," he says. "You get assigned to whoever is in the queue, so this is not a surrogate for routine primary care, but is a way of expanding primary care by removing some of the barriers."

But with a service like this, obviously some barriers have to be put into place. For instance, the "tele-docs" will not be able to prescribe narcotics, and patients, as previously mentioned, do not have a choice of practitioners.

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