Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) recognizes telehealth as a potentially useful tool that can provide important benefits for our members. When used appropriately and in accordance with Blue Cross NC’s guidelines, telehealth can be an effective way for providers to communicate directly with their patients. Providers can use telehealth to deliver health care to our commercially insured members, when those members are eligible under their specific benefit designs.
Benefits available for telehealth services typically include:
- Patient counseling
- Evaluations and consultations for common health conditions
- Provider-to-provider consultations
Providers participating in Blue Cross NC’s commercial network who already offer telehealth services are reminded to always verify a member’s specific eligibility and benefits for telehealth before providing services.
Many providers and health care organizations already offer telehealth services for our commercially insured members. However, others do not, and may be considering telehealth as an option. Network providers can design their own systems for providing telehealth, or they can utilize the services of a telehealth vendor--providing the services are conducted over a secured channel and compliant with all requirements described in Blue Cross NC’s guidelines.
One such vendor option offering an interactive audio and video telecommunications system consistent with our guidelines is TouchCare. TouchCare is a North Carolina-based, mobile health company providing patients and their providers with a safe, secure, HIPAA-compliant way to connect via video calls. TouchCare mobile apps offer convenient access to quality care by connecting patients and their providers anytime, anywhere. To learn more about telehealth technology and the benefits TouchCare can offer providers’ practices and patients, please visit the TouchCare website.
Beginning in July 2017, Blue Cross NC will offer MDLIVE® (MDLIVE, Inc.) access for eligible members. MDLIVE will allow commercially insured members enrolled in benefit plans with coverage for MDLIVE telehealth services access to a doctor from their home, office, or on-the-go. MDLIVE employs its own provider network, which operates outside and independent from Blue Cross NC’s provider network. MDLIVE providers are all Board-certified physicians who are qualified to provide telehealth services via synchronous, interactive audio and secured video to treat non-emergency medical conditions. MDLIVE is not intended to replace the provider-patient relationship between providers participating in Blue Cross NC’s network and our members. MDLIVE is a virtual solution for our members to access health care as a sometimes substitute to visiting a provider’s office, urgent care, or an emergency room.
Using MDLIVE requires potential patients to first open a secure account, which our members can initiate by logging in to Blue Connect at bluecrossnc.com. Once logged in, they’ll find information to link them to MDLIVE’s Blue Cross NC members’ registration page. Included as part of each member’s registration is a request to provide their known health history and primary care physician’s name and contact information. As part of the registration process (or in the future), members can elect to have copies of their telehealth visit records sent to their primary care providers. MDLIVE also maintains a complete record of each patient’s online visit. Blue Cross NC members can download PDF copies of their MDLIVE visit records and share them with their primary care providers, as well as other providers from whom they receive care.
MDLIVE providers are available to treat medical conditions such as:
- Common allergies
- Mild fevers
- Insect bites
- Sore throats
- Urinary infections
- Other conditions of moderate complexity
MDLIVE also offers services for behavioral health concerns; however, Blue Cross NC is not extending those services for our members at this time. MDLIVE is not intended for emergency medical issues, and members will be redirected for care for urgent and emergent conditions. Members who contact MDLIVE for other (non-emergency) conditions requiring treatment beyond what can be accomplished within the scope of a telehealth visit, or diagnosed with a condition during a telehealth visit, will be referred to their primary care physicians to arrange further care.
Please note, participation in the Blue Cross NC provider network has no in-network affiliation with the MDLIVE network. Participation in the MDLIVE network is completely independent from the Blue Cross NC network, and providers employed and paid by MDLIVE do not appear in the Blue Cross NC provider directories.
To learn more about MDLIVE and the services they generally provide, please visit their website, MDLIVE.