KentuckyOne Health to launch telemedicine program

KentuckyOne Health said Thursday that it is launching a program that will allow Kentuckians to receive care over the phone or by Web camera for a flat fee of $35.

The program, called Kentucky One Anywhere Care, will let patients call for care around the clock and be answered within 30 minutes with a phone call or video chat by a doctor or nurse practitioner. The fee is $35 for each visit and is paid by patients whether they have insurance or not.

The service will be available to KentuckyOne Health employees later this month, and to the public on Nov. 1.

The health-care providers may prescribe medications, recommend over-the-counter medications or provide home-care options. They will not prescribe or refill prescriptions for controlled substances.

KentuckyOne Anywhere Care will be offered through a partnership with Seattle-based Carena Inc. KentuckyOne, based in Louisville, was formed in 2012 with the combination of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and St. Joseph Health System.

Travis Burgett, KentuckyOne's director of strategy, said the service is likely to be used for routine conditions such as sinusitis, respiratory infections and urinary-tract infections "that are uncomfortable and that they want to have treated and get resolved, but are difficult to spend hours (with) in an emergency room."

The $35 fee, he said, is set to be a part of the cost that an urgent-treatment center visit would be. He said the service would be not a deterrent to the use of burgeoning small in-store clinics, but "an enhancement to those options."

Burgett said the call will begin with information being gathered about a patient's location and whether the patient has any "red flags," such as chest pain, extremely high fever or shortness of breath that would mandate that they go to an emergency room.

Burgett said virtual-care visits now make up less than one percent of the medical market, but they are projected to make up as much as 10 percent by 2020.

KentuckyOne Anywhere Care "is going to expand access to primary care in a state that's underserved," Burgett said.

KentuckyOne spokeswoman Barbara Mackovic said the patient profile for virtual visitors in other markets showed a breakdown of 60 percent female patients compared with 40 percent male. Mackovic said 44 percent of those using the service don't have primary-care providers.