MDLive, Beacon partner on virtual behavioral health visits
A week after landing $50 million in fresh financing from investors including Cigna and Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), telehealth provider MDLive announced it has entered into a partnership to offer virtual behavioral health services to Beacon Health Options members.
The partnership, launched earlier this month, initially gives about 1 million of Beacon's 40 million employer and health plan members access to MDLive's telehealth services for issues ranging from anxiety and depression to substance use disorder.
MDLive's platform for counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists will augment Beacon's behavioral health programs and network of clinicians and community-based partners, the companies said.
Healthcare organizations are embracing telehealth programs as a means to provide cost-saving, convenient care to patients. MDLive and behavioral health specialist Beacon said virtual visits bring a level of convenience and discretion to clients that is only possible digitally.
Cigna last week said its partnership with MDLive has resulted in a 17% decrease in total medical costs and 36% percent decline in emergency department use for those patients.
MDLive also offers virtual medical and dermatology consultations to its 27 million members. Investors in its latest funding round include Health Velocity Capital, Novo Holdings and Industry Ventures, in addition to Cigna and HCSC, parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in five states. They join a group of backers that includes Sentara Healthcare, Sutter Health, Heritage Group and Bedford Funding.
"We believe telehealth is a platform play with customers wishing to access virtual primary care, behavioral health care, dermatology, and, in the future, virtual post-discharge services, virtual chronic condition clinics, connected devices, and a myriad of other use cases from a single source," said Marty Felsenthal, managing partner in Health Velocity Capital, a lead investor in the MDLive financing round.
Funding for digital health deals set a new record in the first half of 2018 with $3.4 billion spent on 193 deals, according to a report from venture fund Rock Health. Telemedicine landed 21% of total digital health funding with 32 deals worth $714.6 million, and behavioral health was also a big winner, with 16 deals valued at $273 million.
Last month, MDLive competitor American Well disclosed it had raised nearly $300 million in new funding. A major backer of American Well is health technology giant Philips, which partnered with the company earlier this year to embed telehealth services in a range of products. American Well in July also said Anthem health plan members can now video chat with its care providers via Samsung Galaxy phones.
The 2018 federal budget act expands coverage for telehealth services for Medicare Advantage enrollees beginning in 2020 and allows eligible Accountable Care Organizations to expand the use of telehealth services.