Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (Blue Cross MA) will allow some of its commercial health plan members to receive integrated virtual care for free starting in the new year.
The nonprofit’s health plan announced partnerships Friday with virtual primary care companies Carbon Health and Firefly Health. These partnerships include mental health and other primary care.
To be eligible for the free virtual visits through the “Virtual Care Team feature”, Blue Cross MA members with HMO plans must designate a Carbon Health or Firefly Health provider as their primary care provider rather than an in-home provider. office provider. Eligible health savings plan members must meet their deductible first, according to a press release.
The partnership is slightly different from Carbon Health’s approach to mental health services. It does not work in the network with health plans and charges $99 for 50-minute telehealth sessions. Firefly Health is in-network with several commercial health plans, according to its website.
“More consumers are adopting virtual care and experiencing its benefits, including greater convenience and affordability,” said Patrick Gilligan, Chief Commercial Officer of Blue Cross MA, in the release. “We are excited to offer members access to two primary care practices that offer the most comprehensive virtual primary care models we have seen.
“They go beyond traditional primary care to help members take control of their health in a way that is convenient and fits their lifestyle.”
Patients who opt for the virtual integrated care program receive access to care and 24/7 communication via a mobile app and website; personalized wellness coaching; and, in some cases, medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs.
By using our virtual-first model, we believe that patients can gain comprehensive access to their healthcare providers for superior care and support, while seeing unparalleled satisfaction, better health outcomes, and lower costs.
— Firefly Health CEO Fay Rotenberg
The move aims to reduce patient costs, improve customer experience and increase access to primary care, the release said.
dr. Ashley Yeats, vice president of medical operations at Blue Cross MA, said virtual primary care is a safe way to reach patients who are not inclined to interact with primary care providers. She also said: previous research shows that patients who are connected to a primary care provider generally have better health outcomes and lower costs.
Integrating behavioral health into primary care is an emerging but rapidly accelerating force in healthcare. The US Department of Health and Human Services has released the Biden administration’s documents roadmap for using behavioral health integration to achieve the president’s mental health strategy first announced in the state of union address.
In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) model has led to as many as 68% of providers co-localize behavioral health services on site.
However, the virtual aspect of digital health businesses enables healthcare providers to both coordinate and co-locate all types of healthcare providers in the same healthcare environment, regardless of where they or the patient are.
Categorically, traditional healthcare settings see some of the worst customer satisfaction scores of any industry, according to the US Customer Satisfaction Index.
“By using our virtual-first model, we believe that patients can gain comprehensive access to their healthcare providers for superior care and support while seeing unparalleled satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower costs,” said Fay Rotenberg, CEO of Firefly Health, in the release.