KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

WellPoint To Begin Offering ‘Electronic’ House Calls

The Indianapolis Star: "Indianapolis-based health insurance giant WellPoint unveiled a new program to give its members access to doctors and other health-care providers via the Internet. The house call would be initiated by a patient logging in for a video chat from work to describe a sore throat, or a parent at home texting about a child with poison ivy. The physician will be able to review patient information, chat, prescribe medicine or suggest a follow-up visit, all while online or the telephone. WellPoint - which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, including Indiana - plans to begin offering the service in select areas this fall" (Lee, 6/15).

The Denver Post: "Colorado is racing a five-year deadline to build a network of electronic medical records linking doctors' offices and hospitals across the state - a massive challenge given that about 70 percent of physicians still use the print-fax-phone method to share data. In 2015, the federal government will begin penalizing doctors who aren't using electronic records by reducing their reimbursements for treating patients with Medicare or Medicaid." The effort has large logistical challenges because doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers each pick their own electronic system and then the state effort must ensure that the clinical records are translated into a common language so that they can communicate. At the same time, privacy issues are considered paramount and designers must ensure that the system cannot be hacked (Brown, 6/15).

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