Virtual Clinic: The Doctor Will See You Now, Online
Starting this fall, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota plans to offer its 10,000 employees and dependents the chance to use a "virtual clinic," an Internet site that can connect them with a doctor for a live 10-minute consultation for a flat fee.
When the system goes live this fall, doctors throughout Minnesota will be able to use a videocam or instant messaging to diagnose and treat anything from headaches to urinary infections in patients they've never met in person.
Blue Cross officials are betting that this kind of technology will play a pivotal role in transforming health care -- making it far more convenient than ever, and saving money in the process. In fact, many Twin Cities clinics are trying to reinvent the doctor visit, using the Internet and other technologies to deliver care in new ways.
Today, patients must go to the doctor's office because that's how doctors get paid, said Patrick Geraghty, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "We want to change that model," he said. He argues that many doctor-patient encounters could be handled virtually, saving expensive trips to the clinic or emergency room.
Press release from American Well, provider of the technology