Reporting Matt Roush
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Residents of Michigan, and anyone traveling in Michigan, will now be able to get care for common medical conditions online at anytime of the day or night – even receiving a prescription when appropriate – without having to see an in-person provider.
Virtuwell, a 24/7 online clinic that treats more than 40 common conditions and costs $40 or less depending on insurance, is available to residents of Michigan effective immediately.
Michigan is the third state in which Virtuwell has been introduced. Nearly 50,000 customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin have received treatment plans from Virtuwell since the online clinic launched in late 2010.
Virtuwell is part of HealthPartners, the nation’s largest consumer-governed, nonprofit healthcare organization. Based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, HealthPartners provides health insurance to more than 1.4 million residents of Minnesota and western Wisconsin while providing care at five hospitals and more than 100 medical and dental clinics.
Among the conditions that can be treated by Virtuwell are sinus infections, bladder infections, pink eye, the flu, upper respiratory infections, yeast infection, ear pain, allergies, bronchitis, acne, poison ivy and poison oak, rashes, diaper rash, first and second degree burns, sunburn, swimmer’s ear and lice. All are conditions that can be treated safely and reliably online and don’t require a physical exam or a lab test.
Michigan residents can now access care at Virtuwell.com and begin an online interview that starts with the basic question “What do you think you have?” From there, the customer is guided through Virtuwell’s expert system to answer questions about their conditions and symptoms (or those of their child).
If the customer has a condition that Virtuwell can treat based on strict clinical protocols and national guidelines, their case will be sent to a Virtuwell nurse practitioner. The customer will receive a personalized diagnosis, treatment plan, and prevention advice. If applicable, a prescription will be sent electronically to the customer’s pharmacy of choice.
Customers will receive an email or text informing them that their treatment plan is available at virtuwell.com — usually within 30 minutes. Customers also have the option to speak live with the nurse practitioner on the telephone within minutes, during or after their visit, 24/7, just by clicking a request-a-call button.
If the customer is experiencing symptoms of a condition that is more complicated than can be safely treated online, the interview is stopped and the individual is referred to a convenient, in-person provider in their community at no cost.
Customers will pay only $40 or less depending on their insurance coverage. That is about $300 less than a typical ER visit and about $80 less than an office visit. virtuwell also offers a money back guarantee.
Customers do not need to have health insurance to use Virtuwell, though Virtuwell is covered as a convenience care provider by a growing number of health plans. In addition, with the increase in the number of individuals who have high deductible health plans, many customers appreciate the ability to use Virtuwell and save money instead of going to an urgent care facility.
Virtuwell is also an excellent option for people who live in areas where health care is not easy to access or where an emergency room is the only option for routine care after business hours.
Founded in 1957, the HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com) family of health care companies serves more than 1.4 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. It includes a multispecialty group practice of more than 1,700 physicians; five hospitals; 44 primary care clinics; 18 urgent care locations; 20 dental clinics; and numerous specialty practices in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation providing care, coverage, research and education to improve the health of members, patients and the community. HealthPartners is the top-ranked commercial health plan in Minnesota and is also ranked among the top 30 plans in the nation according to NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Rankings 2012-13.