NORFOLK , Va., Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sentara Healthcare and MDLIVE announced today an unprecedented partnership that will deliver secure real-time medical consultations to patients with an established regional network of physicians available via telephone and online video throughout the state of Virginia. The deal also gives Norfolk-based Sentara Healthcare a first-of-its-kind equity stake in the privately held Sunrise, Fla.-based telehealth firm.
The broad availability of the secure telehealth platform addresses consumer interest in 24/7 on-demand healthcare options. The platform also increases Sentara's patient capacity as more than 1 million uninsured Virginia residents gain access to health insurance in 2014 under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
While the MDLIVE service is currently available to consumers through MDLIVE.com, the new Sentara option will launch to consumers in Virginia beginning in October. Sentara employees and members of selected Optima Health commercial insurance plans will also receive this service as an additional benefit over the course of 2013. A preview of what's to come with Sentara MDLIVE is available at http://www.mdlive.com/sentara.
"Healthcare is changing due to a variety of factors, including advances in digital technology, physician shortages, increased access to insurance and high deductible plans, decreased reimbursement and patient population management needs," Sentara CEO David Bernd said.
"This collaboration expands access to care to hundreds of thousands of residents in our core and neighboring markets as well as offers them an alternate delivery option," Bernd said. "And with an equity stake in MDLIVE, we become not just another client, but rather a partner focused on paving the way for future advances in virtual healthcare delivery."
Patients will be able to use the MDLIVE virtual consult platform to consult directly with a licensed Sentara or partner physician who will diagnose low-acuity illnesses such as allergies or a urinary tract infection and provide care as appropriate, including prescriptions. Patients with more serious conditions will be directed to the nearest immediate care facility as appropriate. Should a prescription be necessary, MDLIVE's connection to over 60,000 pharmacies enables them to send a prescription electronically to the pharmacy of choice.
"The marriage of MDLIVE's state-of-the-art virtual consult platform with high quality care provided by Sentara Healthcare's established regional network of physicians, hospitals and other facilities is unprecedented in its scope and reach," MDLIVE CEO Randy Parker said. "Our partnership with Sentara empowers us to create a model for the future of virtual access to healthcare systems across the country."
John Sculley, an MDLIVE board member and the former CEO of Apple, described the agreement as a giant leap forward in the technology-driven evolution of medicine.
"We are at a transformational moment in healthcare driven by the demand for quality care and access and the capabilities of new technologies," Sculley said. "The partnership between MDLIVE and Sentara Healthcare sets the stage for expanding access to new modes of healthcare delivery that can benefit patients, the healthcare industry and the nation."
About Sentara Healthcare
Sentara Healthcare is an acknowledged leader in patient safety and quality innovation. Founded in 1888 as the Retreat for the Sick in Norfolk, Virginia, Sentara has ranked for more than a decade among the nation's top integrated healthcare systems by Modern Healthcare magazine and was the #1 most integrated healthcare system for two years consecutively in 2010 and 2011.
Sentara, a not-for-profit health system, operates more than 100 sites of care serving residents across Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The system is comprised of 10 acute care hospitals, including 7 in Hampton Roads, 1 in Northern Virginia, and 2 in the Blue Ridge region, advanced imaging centers, nursing and assisted-living centers, outpatient campuses, a home health and hospice agency, a 3,680-provider medical staff, and three medical groups with 618 providers.
Sentara also offers medical transport ambulances and Nightingale, the first air ambulance serving Hampton Roads. Optima Health, an award winning Sentara owned health plan, serves more than 450,000 members in Virginia.
Founded in 2006, MDLIVE, formerly MDLiveCare, is a leading telehealth provider of online and on-demand healthcare delivery services and software that benefit patients, hospitals, employers, payers, physician practice groups and accountable care organizations.
Their cloud-based Virtual Medicine Office software platform makes it possible for patients, medical professionals and plan administrators to collaborate seamlessly and securely via voice, video, email and mobile devices. Payers and providers can also utilize the HIPAA-compliant system to collect and share clinical data from patient medical records, lab results and in-home biometric devices for real-time risk assessments, wellness advice, diagnosis and treatment.
MDLIVE also provide affordable, 24/7/365 Anytime, Anywhere consultations via a nationwide network of Board Certified physicians and licensed therapists.
SOURCE Sentara Healthcare