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Minn. Blue Cross invests in telemedicine hybrid startup


RetraceHealth, a  startup that melds an on-demand service for primary-care physician house calls and a telemedicine service, has raised an undisclosed amount of fresh capital from a from a group of investors that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthEast Care System, in Minnesota, and McKesson Ventures.

MedCity News reports that “the company charges $60 a pop for video visits, $150 for home visits and $190 for a home visit with a lab service to assess things such as cholesterol levels, diabetes and high blood pressure. It also claims to provide an X-ray service. It claims to be able to provide a doctor within half an hour of a request.”

The news service says the “startup has found a way to overcome one of the biggest challenges with these concierge care services: reimbursement. Through a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, RetraceHealth will offer its services to BCBS’s members throughout Minnesota.”

“There are many companies crowding into the telemedicine market and others providing doctor house calls on demand. Among the challenges they face in growing their business is getting enough certified physicians in each state, the logistical challenge of getting doctors to the right address and the diverse state regulations for how telemedicine is practiced,” MedCity noted.

Such telemedicine and house-call enterprises may succeed in cutting traffic at hospital emergency rooms and, for that matter, in cutting hospital inpatient populations.

The sharing economy expands to healthcare


An Uber driver. App is on the phone on dashboard.

In another development that will help tip over long-entrenched  structures of healthcare, startups are developing  Uber-style models for that old-fashioned medical tool — house calls. Most of this won’t involve insurance.

The idea is to provide a wide range of nonemergency medical care, such as for colds and flu, stitching up bad cuts,  and treating strep throat and pink eye and sprains. Look at these services as mobile urgent-care clinics.

The Wall Street Journal has some examples: “Pager, in New York City, dispatches physicians or nurse practitioners via Uber, for $200. Heal, in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orange County, Calif., promises to ‘get a doctor to your sofa in under an hour’ for $99. (A medical assistant goes along to do the driving and parking.)

“RetraceHealth, in Minneapolis, has a nurse practitioner consult with patients via video (for $50), and only comes to their homes if hands-on care like a throat swab or blood draw is necessary (for $150).”

“Atlanta-based MedZed sends a nurse to a patient’s home to do a preliminary exam. Then the nurse connects via laptop with a doctor who provides a treatment plan remotely. Several Atlanta practices use MedZed as a way to offer patients extended hours without having to keep their offices open.”

“Most of the services don’t accept insurance, but they say patients can pay with health savings accounts or submit out-of-network claims.”


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