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Investing in Technology to Improve Health Care Access

BY HUGO FLOREZ – As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 20 million more people have health care coverage.

While more people are insured than ever before in the United States, access to care remains a challenge in many underserved regions. Several factors, including hours of operation and distance to providers, create barriers for people looking for medical services. If specialty care is required, some people may have to even travel hundreds of miles to find a provider.

To help solve these issues, health plans are investing in technology. Here are some programs Blue Shield of California has rolled out to improve access to care for our members throughout the state.

Telehealth  Telehealth_Adventist

Blue Shield’s Telehealth program with Adventist Health increases access to specialty medical care for our members in rural and urban communities.

The state-of-the-art program offers PPO members the ability to see a specialist or other health care professional via interactive video technology without having to travel to the specialist’s office. Available specialties include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology (diabetes), rheumatology (arthritis) and many more.

We began this program with nine clinics in 2014, and now there are 21 locations across California, with four more to be added by the end of this year.


Blue Shield collaborates with Teladoc to offer remote access to physicians via telephone and secure video consults for diagnosis and treatment when a member is unable to visit their doctor, such as after office hours.

Teladoc’s doctors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help manage common and routine illnesses, reducing the need for costly and time-consuming emergency room visits for non-emergency medical issues.


With Heal, doctor house calls are back. A few swipes using Heal’s smartphone app, or visiting their website, and Blue Shield of California members in San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego can receive house-call-on-demand service from the concierge health care company.

The service allows members to see a doctor at a time and place that is best for them, without the time, cost and stress of traveling to an appointment. 

Retail Clinics 

In addition to these programs, non-emergency health care is available at CVS MinuteClinics and Target Clinics across California. These clinics offer preventive care, vaccinations and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.

For more information about how Blue Shield is investing in technology improve access to health care for our members, please email

Hugo Florez is senior director of PPO Physician and Specialty Networks at Blue Shield of California