Sutter Health Invests in Telehealth Service Provider MDLIVE
Virtual doctor visits give consumers additional access to affordable, high-quality, convenient care
Northern California-based Sutter Health is among several leading U.S. health care networks investing in MDLIVE, a nationally respected provider of telehealth services for consumers, employers, health plans, hospitals and physician organizations.
Through MDLIVE, consumers with non-emergency medical problems have direct, anytime, anywhere access to doctors. MDLIVE affordably connects consumers with board-certified physicians and therapists nationwide via telephone, email and videoconference. MDLIVE is a covered benefit provided by a growing number of self-funded employers and health plans.
“With this investment, Sutter Health takes another step forward in helping transform health care by providing greater access to innovative, high-quality and affordable alternative care delivery options,” said Sutter Health President and CEO Pat Fry. “Our investment in MDLIVE is a prudent and important part of providing communities we serve with more services through digital engagement with health care providers.”
“Empowering consumers to receive quality care when and where they want it opens new avenues to good medicine,” said Don Wreden, M.D., Sutter’s chief medical group transformation officer. Dr. Wreden said Sutter Health-affiliated physicians are part of a health system that is engaging in innovation to ensure we remain competitive and responsive to the needs of our patients. Sutter-affiliated physicians will work together and with MDLIVE to determine how to best integrate telehealth into Sutter medical practices and systems of care.
MDLIVE does not replace a patient’s primary care physician, but provides an additional medical option for:
- patients needing after-hours care
- consumers who don’t have a primary care physician
- patients with a non-emergency but time-sensitive health concern who cannot immediately see their doctor
“Consumers want access to medical care through telehealth technology, just as they have migrated to mobile channels for other services like banking and travel,” said Sutter Health Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development Peter Anderson. He added that government agencies, insurers and employers encourage new, innovative and affordable methods of medical care—especially as the demand increases for primary care.
Sutter Health invested $8.15 million of the $23.6 million total investment that MDLIVE announced this week, which equates to about 10 percent of MDLIVE’s shares. Other investors include the Heritage Healthcare Innovation Fund, a strategic venture fund created by a diverse group of large health care organizations, including Tenet Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, Trinity Health, Community Health Systems, Cardinal Health and Memorial Hermann Healthcare. Sentara Healthcare invested in MDLIVE in 2012.
How does MDLIVE work?
Consumers may access an MDLIVE doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by telephone, email or video conferencing (by appointment). Care coordinators help first-time users set up a personal account that includes information such as health history, prescriptions, family health history and current doctors.
After completing registration, consumers are connected to an MDLIVE doctor immediately or within a few minutes.
MDLIVE offers services through a number of health plans and employers and is also available to self-pay patients via credit card. Charges depend on an individual’s health coverage. Health plans and employers typically offer MDLIVE as part of a benefit plan; some charge a copay, while others do not.