Direct to Consumer

Oral Presentation

(DTC6-03) Chat with a Doc— Asynchronous Virtual Care Access to on-demand physician advice

Monday, April 24
12:10 PM - 12:30 PM
Location: W224 CD

Facing enormous costs from their nearly 660,000 members, some of whom were unnecessarily utilizing high-cost venues (including the ED, urgent care, and nurse advice lines) when they needed medical attention quickly, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, a leader in value-based care, sought a virtual care solution that could instantly address their patients’ needs.

KP Colorado partnered with CirrusMD to launch the Chat with a Doc program in November 2016. The solution, which is available to KP Colorado members, with no co-pay, through their patient portal allows members to instantly connect with a KP doctor via a chat platform similar to instant message. Chat with a Doc has been very well received as, with only limited marketing, the doctors staffing the platform handle upwards of 110 encounters per day. Projections for the second half of 2017 are for the service to grow to over 200 medical encounters per day, including specialized pediatric, Ob/Gyn, and pharmacy chat channels. Additional non-medical services will also be brought into chat functionality, including billing/benefits, scheduling and general member services inquiries

While many healthcare organizations are looking for ways to put barriers between a patient and doctor, because the cost of the physician is perceived as being too high, KP Colorado opted to have Chat with a Doc staffed by Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine physicians.

In its first few months, KP Colorado physicians have effectively diagnosed and treated a wide array of conditions with Chat with a Doc. Seventy-nine percent of chat encounters are handled with advice only or a prescription, 18 percent are referred for appointments in the KP system and one percent are referred to the ED. Patient satisfaction and likelihood to recommend are extremely high, outperforming other care channels in KP Colorado because the solution improves overall patient engagement by providing a responsive service for patients to access care and answers to their questions.

During the presentation, patient enrollment demographics and physician staffing processes for Chat with a Doc will be reviewed. Data was gathered on the maximum capacity of physicians for simultaneous asynchronous interactions. Additionally, KPCO was able to gauge member interest in virtual care preference for many of its members. Many of the inquiries weren’t medical in nature, which highlighted opportunities for improved communication with members. Service adoption and care metrics for this unique virtual care solution will be described, as well as future service line and platform development plans. Finally, Dr. Ari Melmed will review the results of patient surveys and the impact of those testimonials for the largest integrated delivery network in Colorado.

Learning Objectives:

Blake McKinney

CMO and Co-Founder

Dr. Blake McKinney is an emergency medicine physician and chief medical officer at CirrusMD. He began his career as a Communications Intelligence Officer in the United States Marine Corps. A graduate of the Naval Cryptologic Officer’s Basic Course, Dr. McKinney was deployed in command of an NSA force protection detachment in Operation Enduring Freedom. He attended medical school at the University of Texas in Houston and completed Residency training in Emergency Medicine at UC Davis. During Residency, Dr. McKinney spent two years on the University’s committee to implement Epic’s clinical documentation and physician order entry workflows. This experience drove him to create a better way doctors to care for patients using consumer grade technology. Dr. McKinney founded CirrusMD in 2012 as a solution to patient’s pain points around physician access and as a tool to multiply an overextended physician workforce. He observed that while the masses wait hours for medical attention, doctor’s own friends and family simply text their concerns to their loved ones and receive superior care.

By examining communications patterns that occur in nature, so to speak, Dr. McKinney built CirrusMD to reflect clinical workflow merged with best practices in modern telecommunications.


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Ari Melmed

Medical Director
Colorado Permanente Medical Group

Ari Melmed is an Emergency Physician with Colorado Permanente Medical Group. Dr Melmed Graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1993 and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago in 1997. In addition to retaining a part time clinical practice in Emergency Medicine, Dr Melmed currently serves as medical director for the KPCO telemedicine center and the ‘Chat with a Doc’ program, and serves in advisory role in directing KPCO’s virtual care strategy.


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(DTC6-03) Chat with a Doc— Asynchronous Virtual Care Access to on-demand physician advice

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