Friday, September 20, 2013

KentuckyOne Health to start around-the-clock online or phone access to health-care providers for $35 a visit on Nov. 1

Hospital group KentuckyOne Health says it will launch a program on Nov. 1 that will let Kentuckians get urgent care at any time by consulting with a medical professional over the phone or web camera. The group says KentuckyOne Anywhere Care is among the first such programs in the nation.

“KentuckyOne Health’s purpose is to expand access to quality health care, no matter where you live in the Commonwealth; is one way we are doing that,” CEO Ruth W. Brinkley said. “We can provide primary care to more Kentuckians, while saving them time, hassle and expense. We can treat conditions before they become more acute, as well as prevent unnecessary and costly emergency room visits.”

The service will cost patients $35 per visit, whether or not they are covered by insurance. "The cost is less than typical urgent care and a fraction of the cost of a normal emergency room visit," KentuckyOne said in a press release. Patients will be able to request a visit online or through a toll-free phone number. They will receive a phone call or video call from a medical provider within 30 minutes, the release promises.

"Patients will have access to board-certified doctors and nurse practitioners," the release says. "If needed, the KentuckyOne Anywhere Care provider will refer patients for a follow-up clinic visit or to an emergency department," and may prescribe medications, but won't prescribe or refill prescriptions for controlled substances.

The system will be operated by Carena Inc., which has been doing such work since 2010 and serves more than 500,000 patients in corporate programs and more than 1 million for the Franciscan Health System in Tacoma, Wash. The firm says it has a 98 percent satisfaction rating among patients.

Before going public, the new service will get a shakedown cruise by serving KentuckyOne employees who live in Kentucky. The group, Kentucky's largest, comprises Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare in Louisville; the Lexington-based Saint Joseph Health System, which includes hospitals in Bardstown, Berea, London, Martin, Mount Sterling and Shelbyville; and the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. (Read more)

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