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CIGNA Expands Virtual House Calls

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CIGNA HealthCare is increasing the availability of an online health advisory service to members of its health plan.

CIGNA HealthCare, Bloomfield, Conn., an arm of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, is expanding a 4-state pilot program nationally in 2008 that allows qualified members to exchange messages with physicians in “virtual house calls.”

Services include reimbursable Web consultations that use an online, structured interview format offered through RelayHealth, Atlanta. Members can give information about their symptoms to a physician, who can respond online, by phone or, if needed, request the member to visit his or her office.

The system is an affordable way to get in touch with physicians for non-urgent, routine health concerns, says CIGNA.

The company is offering the program to employers with self-insured health plans. The service also provides prescription refills and renewals, lab test results, and appointment scheduling and referrals.

CIGNA first offered eligible members access to the online messaging system in July 2006 through RelayHealth, a unit of McKesson Corp., San Francisco. The pilot program offered access to a limited number of physicians in California, Arizona, Florida and the New York metropolitan area.