UnitedHealthcare adds telemedicine app

UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurance provider, has added a telemedicine app to its offerings, giving its millions of member access to on-demand services anytime.

The UnitedHealthcare app will now provide health information, scheduling abilities and the ability to schedule and conduct a virtual visit with a doctor. The free app is available to UnitedHealthcare’s 27 million plan members.

“Digital health resources are fundamentally changing how people navigate the health system, making it possible to access care from anywhere at any time and helping remove barriers to care,” Anne Docimo, MD, UnitedHealthcare chief medical officer, said in a statement. “The new app is part of UnitedHealth Group’s more than $3 billion annual investment in data, technology and innovation, helping build a health system that is more intuitive, affordable and convenient.”  

Most UnitedHealthcare plans that are employer sponsored cover these virtual visits, though other out-of-pocket costs may be required, the company noted.

The addition to the company’s app is in line with top priorities for healthcare organizations. And the virtual visits could help cut down on overall healthcare costs and unnecessary medical usage.

For example, one quarter of emergency room visits could be solved in virtual care, according to UnitedHealthcare. These visits cost about $50 while a hospital visit averaged $740 for a low-severity condition.

According to the insurer, virtual visits typically last about 20 minutes and enable doctors to diagnose a range of nonemergency conditions, like cold and flu, allergies, rashes and more. Users can be prescribed medications if need be.

Beyond virtual visits, the updated app may meet consumers’ desires for healthcare companies to be more tech-forward, with accessibility to a health plan ID card via smartphone, ability to manage and review prescription medications, comparison shopping on 800 medical services, ability to locate nearby providers and more.