New telehealth benefit connects YNHHS employees to providers for common ills

The scenario is all too familiar: You ignore the faint tickle in the back of your throat on Tuesday. You shrug off the slight ache in your shoulders on Thursday. But by Saturday you can't avoid the fact that you have a temperature of 101, probably have the flu and can't see your doctor until Monday because it's the weekend. Since we rely on phones and computers for so much today, wouldn't it be ideal to teleconference with a doctor for common ailments that aren't life-threatening?

That technology is here. On March 2, a new telehealth service called MDLIVE became available to all Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) benefits-enrolled employees and their covered dependents for on-demand, non-emergent medical care, 24/7/365.

People can have a secure, confidential medical consultation with a doctor by using their phone, smartphone or a computer with a webcam and internet connection. The service is compliant with all privacy regulations. Board-certified in internal medicine and family practice, MDLIVE physicians can diagnose symptoms, prescribe medication and send prescriptions to your pharmacy of choice.

"MDLIVE doesn't replace your primary care providers. It's an option for when you're at home or work and need to see a doctor, particularly when your doctor's office is closed," said Michael Dimenstein, vice president, YNHHS Compensation and Benefits.

The service extends beyond Connecticut. "You can even use MDLIVE when you're traveling anywhere in the United States," Dimenstein added. "Employees whose covered dependents include college students, particularly those living out-of-area for example, can rest easier knowing that when they call home complaining about bronchitis or a sinus infection, they can have a virtual consultation with a physician and receive the care they need."

Common conditions treated by MDLIVE physicians in adults and children include: allergies, asthma, colds and flu, constipation, diarrhea, ear infections, headaches, insect bites, joint aches, nausea, rashes and sore throats.

As part of the medical benefit plan, the cost per encounter is only $15 for Advantage Plus Plan members and $20 for Advantage Plan members. Fees are paid by credit or debit card. The service is a convenient, cost-effective alternative to using the emergency department or urgent care centers for common, non-life threatening conditions. Benefits-enrolled employees will receive program details in their home mail within the next few weeks.