Walmart expands Doctor on Demand telehealth initiative

Walmart has expanded its $4 Doctor on Demand telehealth initiative for its employees to three new US states.

In a move that demonstrates how digital health solutions are catching on with big US employers and health systems, the new expanded programme went live on 1st January.

It allows employees in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to access a new Doctor on Demand program, connecting patients with an online doctor, according to press reports.

Qualifying employees can access a personal online doctor who serves as the primary care physician on the service.

This can help patients by coordinating care with other doctors covered by their health plan, and tasks such as ordering lab work, as well as managing their conditions.

Other benefits including working with a care management team that helps employees manage chronic care conditions, and coordinate referrals and visits.

Walmart began offering the medical and behavioural health visits through the telehealth provider on 1 Jan 2019, and virtual care visits are available to more than a million associates and family members.

According to the US-based website Becker’s Hospital Review, which broke the news about the Walmart Doctor on Demand service expansion, 10 hospitals and health systems in the US launched telehealth services in December alone.

The list included WVU Medicine St Joseph’s Hospital and United Hospital Center, in Bridgeport West Virginia, where clinicians have built a facility allowing them to virtually communicate and treat infectious disease patients.

California’s Stanford Health Care has launched telehealth services within its paediatric emergency department to allow in-house specialists to communicate with colleagues at other facilities.

HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville, Illinois has launched a telehealth system that helps patients residing in rural areas receiving diabetes care.

Another big US company looking to use digital health services to employees – in 2018 it created an independent service called AC Wellness Network offering a ‘concierge’ healthcare experience for employees and their dependents.

Amazon has famously joined with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to rethink healthcare for employees.

The latest news on that venture emerged in autumn: the programme called Haven will see JPMorgan offer 30,000 workers in Ohio and Arizona two plans this year run by Cigna and Aetna.

Details are sketchy but there is likely to a be a digital element – the service offers perks like earning money each month by fulfilling certain wellness activities, such as keeping blood pressure below a certain target.

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