ChristianaCarea health system with headquarters in Delaware, on Tuesday launched a direct-to-consumer virtual primary care practice. The new service was rolled out to help increase access to round-the-clock, convenient primary care, as many Americans are faced with months-long wait times when they seek a brick-and-mortar primary care appointment.
Over the past few years, providers have come to the realization that most primary care can be delivered safely through telehealth, said Sharon Anderson, ChristianaCare’s chief virtual health officer, in a recent interview. She also pointed out that virtual primary care is also often preferred by patients, as it requires less of their time and effort.
“This gives patients a different experience. Not everybody wants to drive to an office and sit in a waiting room with other sick people. When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is get in the car,” Anderson declared.
When a person signs up for a subscription to ChristianaCare’s new virtual primary care practice, they get to select their care team. This team will always include a primary care physician, nurse and patient digital ambassador. The patient digital ambassador acts as a personal guide who assists users with registration, technology set-up and the scheduling of virtual visits.
Once a patient becomes enrolled in the service, they receive a welcome kit with devices tailored to their health needs. These kits often include devices to monitor blood pressure, temperature and weight.
Patients work together with their care team to create a wellness plan based on the health objectives they want to achieve. For example, some patients want to lose weight, sleep better, or stay up-to-date with things like mammograms and flu shots, Anderson explained.
The service offers patients same-day appointments with clinicians, with extended hours on nights and weekends. The primary care practice also gives patients the option to text their care team whenever they need.
“You can schedule a virtual visit for the middle of a night if you need to,” Anderson said.
A subscription to the virtual primary care practice provides full access to its services with no additional fees or copays. The service is priced on five tierswhich are based on patient age ranges. The lowest price tier is for patients ages 5-17 — they pay an annual subscription fee of $270. The highest tier is a $702 annual subscription fee for patients ages 65 and older.
Healthcare services that don’t fall under the category of primary care, such as lab tests, emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging and specialist referrals, are not included in the virtual practice’s subscription model. These services would be subject to patients’ existing health insurance coverage.
ChristianaCare’s new virtual practice is currently available in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The health system plans to expand the practice into additional states over the coming years, Anderson said.