Louisville company testing ways to expand health care options to businesses, employees
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 29, 2013) — “The doctor will see you now” takes on a new, high-tech meaning at the new Humana Health & Well-Being Center’s telemedicine suite.
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Patients who visit the center, located inside Humana’s downtown Louisville headquarters, can speak directly to an off-site physician or nurse practitioner who evaluates, diagnoses and treats their medical condition using the latest audio and video technology. Patients are assisted by an on-site medical professional during their visit.
The doctor and nurse practitioner are just a few blocks away in the Humana Clock Tower building at First and Main Streets. From there, they use telemedicine technology to see patients who are suffering from a range of health issues, provide diagnoses and write prescriptions.
Telemedicine has been touted as a way to improve access to health care. It is currently used in 34 percent of U.S. health centers. The Humana Health & Well-Being Center’s telemedicine suite was specifically designed for urban professionals whose time limitations may prevent them from going to see a doctor.
Right now, the clinic is only open to Humana employees and their covered dependents.
The telemedicine suite serves a dual purpose, said Jim Murray, Humana chief operating officer.
“For us, this is not only an opportunity for us to do something for our associates, but it also has a lot of good business applicability,” he said.
Humana is evaluating the expansion of telemedicine capabilities as part of its integrated care model. Concentra, a subsidiary of Humana, markets onsite work health clinics to companies throughout the United States, Murray said. Currently, there are 250 to 300 of those kinds of clinics, which are staffed with a doctor.
“Those companies are beginning to ask us how do we create more access to the clinics,” Murray said.
Business leaders have expressed interest in finding ways to make the clinics more accessible to associates at their individual locations, Murray said, rather than requiring employees to visit a central clinic location.
They are asking if there “are ways to do a hub-and-spoke kind of a model,” he said.
“So we’re in the process of doing pilots like this (telemedicine suite) to try to figure out how to encourage our associates first to utilize these kinds of facilities and then take that learning and apply it to the companies,” Murray said.
JCPenney and Goodyear are interested in seeing how telemedicine clinics might work in their companies, he said.
Concentra also is working with Walmart to “test this concept in San Antonio in a couple of Walmart stores. We’ll see how that develops. San Antonio is an important market for us, and we’re seeing if that is another access point for some of the seniors we serve,” Murray said.
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