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Date:11/24/2009

BREWER, Maine, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Thanks to an innovative program recently developed between Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, some Anthem members in Bangor and Presque Isle can now "visit" their physician without leaving home.

As part of the pilot, Anthem members are able to send health related messages and questions and communicate via email with their provider about non-emergent issues, in addition to scheduling appointments, checking on test results, or requesting prescription refills.

"This program provides yet another way for individuals to interact with their physician for non-urgent health issues," said Iyad Sabbagh, M.D., lead physician at Husson Internal Medicine in Bangor. "We feel it will offer our patients greater ease of access to their doctor and help save time for both physician and patient."

According to Vincent Liscomb, Jr., Executive Director, Provider Engagement and Contracting, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, the initial phase of the program will involve primary care physicians PCPs at selected primary care practices at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor and The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) in Presque Isle. "In addition to the added convenience," Liscomb notes, "members who choose to use the pilot will not have co-pays."

Liscomb adds that while the new service will benefit all patients, those who don't always have access to reliable transportation, college students, or people who live out of the state for part of the year, will find the program particularly helpful.

EMMC and TAMC - both members of EMHS - are also participating in a similar pilot with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Sabbagh said that EMHS staff has worked hard to develop a number of protocols to ensure the interactions are both secure and appropriate to a patient's treatment plan. "This program is not meant to replace a face-to-face visit or annual exams, rather it supports the patient's good health between regular office visits," he said. "It's also important to note that the program is for patients who already have an established relationship with their doctor and have been seen within the past year."

Anthem members who currently see EMMC or TAMC primary care physicians should check to see if their provider is participating in the pilot.

"We're excited to collaborate with EMHS in this pilot," said Jeffrey Holmstrom, Medical Director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. "We feel that this program has the potential to enhance patient access to their primary care physician, resulting in better care coordination, improved outcomes, and more efficient medical care."

About Eastern Maine Health Services

EMHS is a passionate advocate; committed to helping the residents of the communities we serve have access to quality healthcare. By sharing resources and working together with each member organization, EMHS helps ensure that our aligned health providers have access to new technologies and the best medical protocols available, and the support they need to thrive. Together We're Stronger!

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine is the trade name of Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine is available at www.anthem.com.

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine


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