Anthem, MBS partner to connect employees with doctors
Mar 09 2015
Imagine having a doctor housed in your office, a place you could swing by on your lunch break without having to leave the building.
Employees at MBS Textbook Exchange recently got what the company’s CEO and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield hope is the next best thing. Through a pilot program with the insurance company, MBS Textbook Exchange has introduced a high-tech kiosk employees can use to talk with doctors across the country.
“It makes it a very convenient way for our members to access a physician,” Anthem Regional Vice President Stephanie Vojicic said. “You don’t need this box to access this service.” Think about people with “small children in the middle of the night.”
The companies hope the kiosk will reduce costs for routine visits and help employees have quicker and easier access to non-emergency medical care.
“Maybe in the long run, we can lower the cost of health care,” MBS Textbook Exchange CEO Robert Pugh said.
The hope is that remote consultations will supplement in-person visits to doctor’s offices. The doctors will be able to remotely prescribe medications to patients and have them ready to pick up at a local pharmacy.
For hourly employees, the ability to swing by the human resources office for a quick doctor’s visit — the average visit length on the kiosk is about eight minutes — means less time off the clock to get checked out.
Anthem has offered remote visits for several years — people can also video chat with doctors using their smartphones or computers — but it has just introduced the kiosk to Columbia-based MBS Textbook Exchange.
“It provides us with additional hard data,” physician Matt Grandstaff said through the kiosk’s video screen Monday morning.
Even though Grandstaff works out of an office in south Texas, the kiosk’s equipment allows him to gather more information than he would be able to get simply by talking with a patient. The kiosk has a blood-pressure monitor, a thermometer and a handheld camera designed to give doctors an up-close look at a patient’s skin. It also has a large video screen and a camera so both patient and doctor can easily see each other.
Keith Schieler, Anthem’s director of account management, said the company has not determined how long it will test the kiosk program. He said Anthem would be looking specifically at how the program affects medical costs and whether it seems to lower the amount of times people miss work because they need to stay home sick or go to a doctor’s office in person.
“We’ll measure the impact over the next few years,” Schieler said.