New Telehealth Service Offers Austin Employees Anytime, Anywhere Access to Physicians; eMD Access to Launch at SXSW

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CirrusMD showcases its telehealth technology at SXSW Interactive’s first SX Health and MedTech Expo.

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“We’re making telemedicine more accessible to the consumer, which will benefit everyone involved from the patient to the physician to the employer," said Andrew Altorfer, CEO of CirrusMD.

Starting this spring, some Austin employees will be able to skip a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room, thanks to a new partnership between Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) and CirrusMD.

The two organizations have come together to offer eMD Access (http://www.emdaccess.com), a digital healthcare service that companies in central Texas can provide to their employees as an affordable premium benefit.

Employees will have access to a team of ARC doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via secure text messaging, image sharing and video chat through Denver, Colorado-based CirrusMD’s HIPAA-compliant mobile platform.

Patients who utilize eMD Access will continue to use their existing primary care physicians and specialists for in-office needs.

“Historically, this type of access to a doctor has only been available through expensive “concierge” practices. Now thousands of Central Texans will have the same ease of access to a physician as a doctor’s friends or family has now,” said Jake Childers, MD, the ARC family medicine physician who recently oversaw an eMD Access pilot program with Techstars Austin.

Through eMD Access, ARC doctors will be available to treat many common maladies including colds, common injuries, infections, and allergies. They can write prescriptions, order tests, and, as appropriate, refer patients to a doctor’s office or emergency room for further medical care. The service would not be used for true medical emergencies and is not a substitute for primary care management of chronic issues like diabetes or hypertension.

Employers and their staff are expected to benefit from more convenience and reduced healthcare costs as well as other advantages.

“Patients can work around their own schedules, avoid multiple calls to the doctor’s office and not have to drive anywhere. For employers, this type of program can cut healthcare expenses, attract and retain talent, reduce work absenteeism and boost employee morale. It’s a win win,” said Dr. Childers, the lead physician administrator for eMD Access.

Patients will have access to their messaging history and records from any telemedicine visit. The platform also features easy record sharing with primary care physicians.

“We know that optimal care comes through a patient’s own primary care physician. This telehealth tool makes it easy to communicate with a patient’s existing care team,” explained Dr. Childers.

ARC is limiting the eMD Access to local employers to allow for in-person meeting with each participating employee to review their health history prior to initiating service.

At least three area employers will offer eMD Access to employees when it launches in April, just a few weeks after it is showcased at SXSW Interactive’s first SX Health and MedTech Expo.

Andrew Altorfer, CEO of CirrusMD, said, “We’re making telemedicine more accessible to the consumer, which will benefit everyone involved from the patient to the physician to the employer.”

Since 2013, companies in several cities have increased employee access to healthcare through CirrusMD. Data have shown a significant decrease in ER utilization rates for patients accessing a physician via the CirrusMD platform. Avoidable ER visits are a major driver of unnecessary healthcare expense.

“Very often patients simply need assurance or advice on where and when to be seen for an issue. eMD Access makes this assistance immediately available to patients, saving time, reducing unnecessary or inappropriate visits and providing peace of mind,” said Altorfer.

Usage and cost savings results generated by CirrusMD include:

  • 18 percent of registered users sought treatment
  • 23 percent of encounters represented an ER visit avoided
  • 43 percent of encounters involved a prescription written

ARC and CirrusMD will be offering demonstrations at Booth #405 at the SX Health and MedTech Expo, JW Marriott Hotel (110 East 2nd Street, Austin, TX) on March 16 and 17.

“Healthcare Access Project” at SXSW Booth #405
CirrusMD and Storyvine Health are launching the “Healthcare Access Project” at SXSW, capturing live video experiences from people sharing problems they have had with accessing healthcare and the resulting human and other costs to them.

Visit Booth #405 to tell your story. Follow the videos over time at https://vimeo.com/channels/HCaccessProject or on Twitter: @HCaccessProject.

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About Austin Regional Clinic
Austin Regional Clinic is a multispecialty medical group committed to providing comprehensive health care services throughout the greater Austin area. Founded by three physicians in 1980, it now provides health care to over 380,000 area residents in 21 locations in seven cities, including both primary and specialty care. It is unique to the Austin area because of the widespread locations, convenient services and quality assurance programs. ARC patients enjoy access to such conveniences as same-day appointments, daytime urgent care, after hours clinics, and nursing services through the night. Most ARC offices also offer on-site radiology and lab services and some offices offer specialty programs such as a travel clinic and weight loss programs. Patients can also request future or same-day appointments from the ARC web site. For more information, visit http://www.austinregionalclinic.com.

About CirrusMD
Founded in 2012, CirrusMD develops Mobile Physician Access solutions for large healthcare organizations. It’s proprietary technologies allow everyone to access convenient, timely medical care with local physicians in the same way that doctors address concerns for their friends and family – through text and video chat. Its HIPAA-compliant platform allows providers to offer secure text messaging/image sharing and video visits to patients via mobile devices and web browsers. It currently works with large payers and providers in a number of states and will be rolling out its platform nationwide in 2015. For more information, contact Chris Saxman, Chief Operating Officer, at info@cirrusmd.com or visit http://www.cirrusmd.com.

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Ellen F Decareau
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