New York and Emeryville, Calif. - After the completion of a successful 18-month pilot, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and RelayHealth Corp. are expanding the RelayHealth webVisit service to all members of Empire's HMO plan.Beginning July 1, 2006 more than 400,000 HMO members will have access to RelayHealth's Web-enabled doctor visits. As part of the expansion agreement, Empire will also make RelayHealth available to all of its national Administrative Services Only (ASO) accounts as a new benefit.

RelayHealth webVisits enable doctors to be paid $25 for Internet-based online consultations using secure and advanced technology. More than 300 physician members of CPPN, the physician/provider managed care organization of Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, and 3,000 of their patients have been participating in the pilot program since the fall of 2005.

Both parties have been able to communicate online using the full array of RelayHealth services including appointment scheduling, lab and test results, e-prescribing, and prescription renewals and refills.

Recent research shows that most patients want the ability to communicate with their physicians online to allow for increased convenience, speed and access to medical care. Additional studies revealed that employees were 50% less likely to miss work because they were able to communicate online with their physician via RelayHealth.

"We are very excited to support Empire's employer-focused initiatives. RelayHealth's time-saving, convenient, and low-cost healthcare services can help health plans and their employer clients achieve key goals like increasing employee satisfaction and retention and reducing healthcare costs," says Giovanni Colella M.D., president and chief executive officer of RelayHealth.

"The success of this pilot program demonstrates that RelayHealth's online communications service is an effective way to help Empire deliver superior service to our members," says Alan Sokolow M.D., chief medical officer at Empire. "This opportunity represents another accomplishment in our ongoing effort to create opportunities that allow us to increase patient access, improve safety, and to provide our members with more choices for managing their healthcare needs."

Sources: Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, RelayHealth Corp.

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