Advanced ICU Care and UAB Medicine Enter Strategic Telemedicine Partnership

ST. LOUIS, Mo., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Advanced ICU Care, the nation’s leading provider of high-acuity telemedicine services, announced a large strategic telemedicine partnership with UAB Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in patient care, research and training. The technology, operations, and care partnership encompasses the entire UAB Health System including University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, the third largest public hospital facility in the U.S. The relationship initiates with the development of a new tele-ICU operations center in Birmingham and envisions serving up to 750 ICU beds in Alabama and surrounding states.

The new partnership brings together leading healthcare innovators to advance the practice and operational models of tele-ICU care. UAB Medicine’s desire to provide state-of-the-art tele-ICU services for its ICU units led to extensive evaluation of tele-ICU options. Advanced ICU Care has developed unique assets and experience in its fifteen years of offering telemedicine care.

In particular, Advanced ICU Care’s proprietary HUB workflow management software platform uniquely addresses the challenges associated with the customized delivery of acute patient care at high volumes across multiple care venues. In addition, the company’s technical, operational, and clinical expertise draw upon its care of over a half million tele-ICU patients and care partnerships with more than 100 hospitals nationwide. UAB Medicine brings to the relationship additional clinical expertise as a national leader in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

 “Advanced ICU Care’s clinical and operational expertise and proprietary HUB workflow management software are assets that are well aligned with UAB’s vision for our tele-ICU programs,” said Reid Jones, CEO of UAB Medicine. “Telehealth and tele-ICU have become increasingly important vehicles for healthcare delivery, and we look forward to leveraging Advanced ICU Care’s assets to deliver high-acuity telemedicine to patients across Alabama and beyond.”

“The size and scope of this unique tele-ICU services partnership is indicative of the forward looking, innovation-oriented cultures of both organizations,” said Lou Silverman, CEO of Advanced ICU Care. “As a technology-enabled healthcare services organization, we have successfully implemented and managed more tele-ICU programs than any other provider in the nation. We see this partnership as an endorsement of the successes we have achieved to date and as a validation of our vision for the future of telemedicine. We look forward to collaborating closely with the UAB Medicine team in this inspired project.”

About UAB Medicine

UAB Medicine comprises the School of Medicine and the $4.3 billion UAB Health System that includes all of the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s patient-care activities and 2,300 licensed beds in six hospitals, one of which is UAB Hospital — the third-largest public hospital in the United States, winner of the Women’s Choice award, and one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals. UAB, a part of the University of Alabama System, is the state of Alabama’s largest single employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50. UAB is the

Some Insurers Stop Waiving Fees or Deductibles for Telemedicine

Some people will have to start paying more out of their own pockets for telemedicine appointments, if their virtual visits with doctors are unrelated to Covid-19 and are needed to monitor conditions like diabetes or to check out sudden knee pain.

Two of the largest health insurers, Anthem and UnitedHealthcare, are no longer waiving co-payments and deductibles for some customers beginning on Oct. 1. People who have been relying on telehealth to steer clear of the emergency room or a doctor’s office during the coronavirus pandemic will need to check with their insurers to see how much they will now owe for a virtual visit.

Just how much people who paid nothing before will now have to pay will vary widely, depending on the type of visit and the details of their insurance policy. But you might have the same $25 co-payment to see your doctor over video as you do when you go to the office, and you could even be on the hook for the cost of the entire visit if you have not yet met your deductible.

While a virtual visit is likely to be much cheaper than going to an emergency room, you could end up paying anywhere from $55 to $92, the average cost of a lengthy telemedicine visit within your plan’s network, according to an analysis of insurance claims by FAIR Health, a nonprofit group.

The changes in insurance policy were first reported by STAT news.

In the early months of the coronavirus crisis, the federal Medicare program and private health insurance companies wanted to encourage people to use alternatives to in-person care by talking with a doctor over video or by telephone. They relaxed many of the rules for seeking virtual care, and many waived the co-payments that would normally be charged for those appointments.

But some of the largest insurers, like Anthem and UnitedHealth Group, were reluctant to commit to extending the waivers beyond the fall, despite the caseloads across the country that still amount to nearly 45,000 a day. And people are still wary of in-person care. Many continue to shy away from a hospital’s emergency room and rely on other options, including telemedicine, according to a recent analysis by TransUnion Healthcare. In areas where Covid cases surged, as they did this summer in Arizona, Florida and Texas, people turned to telemedicine, according to a study by Harvard researchers published last month.

“There are still individuals who are vulnerable under any definition that should not be navigating the health system, for their own safety,” said Shawn Martin, the chief executive of the American Academy of Family Physicians, describing the timing of the decision to stop the waivers as “inopportune.”

“The downward economic pressures on families are only building,” he said, noting that there are indications that people are already forgoing needed care during the pandemic. While the co-pay might be only $35, people will be tempted to put off contacting a doctor, he said.

The nation’s major insurers have drawn stiff