Spokane Journal of Business

MultiCare debuts virtual care services in Spokane

Survey shows tele-med treatment gains popularity

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Tacoma-based MultiCare Health System has started a new virtual care service in Eastern Washington in response to the growing demand from a number of patient groups, particularly millennials.

MultiCare, the health care system that oversees Rockwood Clinic, Deaconess Hospital, Valley Hospital, and Indigo Urgent Care, says it has adjusted its services to meet the changing expectation of patients between 23 and 38 who seek convenient and flexible care options, but also want personal quality care.

The virtual care offering debuted Aug. 1, says Ben Chao, MultiCare’s Tacoma-based program director for virtual health, retail health, and strategic partnerships.

“We started it a couple of months prior for employees before debuting it to the public at the beginning of last month,” Chao says. “We’ve received good feedback and consider it to be a pretty positive launch.”

The service allows people to text or face-to-face video chat with a provider. The text service is available 24/7. Face-to-face consultation over video is offered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.

After a consultation, the provider can offer a treatment plan or a prescription without the patient having to leave their home. Over time, this has proved to be a favorable alternative to a visit to an urgent care facility, particularly after hours, MultiCare asserts.

“That’s most often the biggest attribute assigned to virtual care; skipping the drive and line when you’re sick,” Chao says.

Accenture plc, a multinational company that provides professional services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations, completed a survey in February and found that 39% of millennials say they’ve used a virtual health care service.

Overall, 29% of all age groups surveyed said they’d used virtual care. That was up from 21% in the same survey conducted in 2017.

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