Source: ThinkStock

– Cigna is launching a telehealth service to give its 12 million members in employee-sponsored health plans access to primary care services.

The insurer is partnering with Florida-based telehealth provider MDLive to roll out the latter’s new Virtual Primary Care platform later this year.

“Virtual care enables Cigna to deliver convenient access to care and helps make health care more affordable, predictable and simple for our customers,” Julie McCarter, Cigna’s Vice President of Product Solutions, said in a press release. “Working together with MDLive, we are expanding virtual care to include primary care services, starting with wellness screenings.”

MDLIVE, which also has partnerships with Humana and some Blue Cross Blue Shield groups as well as Walgreens, first partnered with Cigna in 2014 to offer urgent care services through telehealth. Just recently, the company added telemental health to its portfolio.

The addition of primary care services pushes MDLive and Cigna into a new arena, and one that is growing quickly. Telehealth advocates have long seen connected health channels as a means of improving access to urgent and specialty care services, but recent surveys are finding that younger generations are bypassing traditional, in-person relationships with primary care providers and looking for those services online.

“There’s a whole portion of our population not seeking any care, and we need to find convenient and affordable ways for those patients to be accessing care,” Julie McCarter, head of product solutions at Cigna, recently told Fast Company.

The new service will include remote patient monitoring through MDLive’s Sophie Health Monitoring platform, which integrates AI tools and a chatbot; lab results; referral management and annual health and wellness screenings.

The announcement comes at a busy time for telehealth providers, highlighted by the announcement this past weekend that Teladoc Health is acquiring InTouch Health. With Teladoc Health and American Well positioned at the top of a crowded market, companies like MDLive, Doctor On Demand, Zipnosis and Plushcare – to name a few – are pushing to enhance their platforms and give potential healthcare partners and consumers more connected health tools.

As if that weren’t enough, Amazon and Walmart are jumping into the sandbox with their own telehealth and mHealth services, and some larger health systems are taking their platforms in-house to take full advantage of branding and their own provider networks.

Source: Cigna Launches New Telehealth Platform for Primary Care Services