BOSTON — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is partnering with American Well, a telehealth services company, to launch a pilot program called WellConnection that enables select patients to engage with their health care provider through online video, instead of going to the doctor’s office.

Health care providers in the two-year pilot will assess and treat patients with select health conditions using video visits. For example, some may use it for check-ins to monitor recovery from concussions, others may use video visits for wellness coaching, to follow up with patients on certain medications, or to check-in after a procedure or hospitalization to monitor recovery and help prevent rehospitalizations.

The WellConnection pilot launches with two physician groups from Blue Cross’ Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), Emerson Physician Hospital Organization (Emerson PHO) and Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization (LGPHO), as well as dedicated Blue Cross nurse care managers. The AQC is an innovative payment model that promotes quality and rewards physicians and hospitals for positive health outcomes. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the AQC has improved the quality of patient care and lowered costs in the four years since it was first implemented.

WellConnection Benefits

  • Easy access to patients’ own clinicians via laptop, smartphone or tablet
  • More efficient care and increased convenience for patients
  • Avoidance of unnecessary trips to the emergency room
  • Convenient in-home medication management and adherence guidance
  • Improved post-surgical outcomes
  • Better integration of behavioral health and primary care

“We are always identifying ways to make it easier for our patients to receive the best medical care,” said Dr. Gregory Martin, Chief Medical Officer of Emerson Hospital. “We are excited to have several physician practices pilot WellConnection to deliver care in the most convenient way for our patients. Leveraging the latest technology enables us to be accessible to patients in particular, well-defined circumstances – even when it is not easy for them to visit the office. All they will need is a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer and they can have a valuable visit with their provider through the power of telemedicine.”