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ChristianaCare Launches Virtual Primary Care

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   March 15, 2023

The Delaware-based health system is jumping into the direct-to-consumer telehealth space with a new service that emphasizes personalized virtual care.

ChristianaCare is launching a direct-to-consumer telehealth program for residents in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Executives at the Delaware-based health system say Virtual Primary Care challenges the popular DTC telehealth strategy by matching patients with a care team, rather than assigning care requests to the next available provider.

"We offer a personalized approach in which patients have the attention of their care team who are all focused on their specific needs and health goals," Sarah Schenck, MD, FACP, the health system's medical director for virtualist medicine, said in a press release. "Each care team knows their patients and is actively working to help them reach their personal health goals. And when patients need specialized care or services, our providers have access to ChristianaCare’s network and the ability to refer to the trusted services and specialists a patient might need outside of primary care.”

“We are reimagining healthcare by making it radically convenient and accessible, and by creating a unique and personal experience,” added Sharon Anderson, RN, MS, FACHE, the health system's chief virtual health officer and president of ChristianaCare’s Center for Virtual Health, which is overseeing the new program. “The Virtual Primary Care practice goes beyond simply offering video visits to patients. We’ve transformed care so it no longer revolves around waiting for an appointment — it’s immediate, coordinated, continuous. Patients can now access virtual primary care 24/7 as well as a host of other health services — all through their computer, tablet, or smartphone.”

The health if offering subscriptions on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, starting at $35 per month, with access to primary care services and text-messaging. Emergency room visits, labs, imaging and specialist referrals are not included in the subscription price.

With this program ChristianaCare is taking on the growing DTC telehealth market and an increasingly competitive primary care marketplace that includes healthcare organizations, telehealth companies, health plans and retail companies like Amazon, Walmart, CVS Health and Walgreens.

While many of these programs are designed to put consumers in front of the first available provider, some health systems are pushing back against that strategy by focusing on personalized care, or care teams that follow the patient's healthcare journey.

"When individuals sign up, they’ll choose their care team of experts including a primary care provider, nurse, and a patient digital ambassador (PDA)," the health system says in the press release. "The patient digital ambassador serves as a personal health guide to assist individuals with registration and technology set-up for their virtual visits. As a care team member, the PDA is available as a personal health guide, while the primary care provider supports patients with their clinical care needs."

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

ChrsitianaCare's new Virtual Primary Care platform will serve consumers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Those who subscribe to the service will have access to a dedicated care team for on-demand primary care through any mobile device.

The health system is launching this service in a crowded primary care space that includes other health systems, telehealth vendors, health plans, and an increasing number of retail companies like Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS Health.


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