Mental health professionals have dabbled in the business of providing services over the web with a visual connection via Skype. The idea hasn’t really caught on, partly because of licensing issues from state to state. Security and HIPAA are concerns.
Also, managed care generally doesn’t reimburse for such services.
But you have to wonder how long that will last. Last week, OptumHealth announced it was launching a program in Detroit called the “NowClinic,” an online service that hooks up Optum nurses and physicians via a visual connection with customers of Rite Aid pharmacies.
The program is described as a “private, face-to-face” consultation inside a room provided at Rite Aid stores. But outside of store hours, the connection can be achieved through www.myNowClinic.com/RiteAid. Medication may be prescribed.
A chat with an Optum nurse is free, but a virtual 10-minute visit with a physician will cost $45.
Optum is an arm of UnitedHealth Group, which also oversees United Behavioral Health, covering 43 million lives.
When it comes to social media, it seems everybody has to get into the act. Hospitals, government agencies and medical/ mental health practices have developed Facebook fan pages. Many individual practitioners are on Twitter.
ValueOptions — the third largest managed care company for mental health benefits — announced in September that the company has created a presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The pages are basically places to put company announcements, but one advantage for providers is that the pages afford comments as well.
The addresses are:
- John Nelander, Contributing Editor