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Six months after it started offering video visits through Doctor on Demand and American Well, UnitedHealthcare says it expects to “see” 20 million patients that way by the end of 2016. More than half of the visits, to date, have been for respiratory issues. Statistically, the average user is a 31-year-old female. UnitedHealthcare says the vast majority of employers it covers like the idea, but have concerns about how many of their workers will actually use that option. Offering the service with no subscription fee has been one way United has quelled such concerns. American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH says telehealth has been given short shrift as nothing more than “quick access to urgent care,” but that it actually “has a role to play that spans from urgent care all the way to end of life. It’s going to change how physician offices operate.” Hospital systems like Intermountain Health in Utah, and Washington state’s Summit Pacific Medical Center are also pursuing telehealth as a way to expand their urgent care offerings and draw in more patients. Summit Pacific Virtual Care Clinic will be available 24 hours a day and help triage patients, in addition to handling low-acuity complaints directly. Telemedicine has even found its way into public schools that don’t have their own dedicated nurse on site.

Urgent Care Operators Look to Telehealth to See More Patients