Drawing upon its recent experience with tens of thousands of patients confronting pandemic issues, and in response to America's heightened need for pandemic preparedness, TelaDoc Medical Services (Dallas) partnered with Quinnian Health (Minneapolis) to provide medical consults through telephonic encounters in real time. TelaDoc is a network of board-certified physicians providing cross coverage consultations 24/7, with its physicians using medical records and telephone consultations to diagnose and recommend treatment.

According to Richard Boxer, MD, chief medical officer of TelaDoc, "Most recently, TelaDoc worked with Wisconsin-based Logistic Health, and its client companies, helping to address the challenges of viral pandemic preparedness for employees with national security clearance and responsibilities including mail delivery, food distribution and other vital areas.

TelaDoc was selected by Quinnian for this current assignment based upon the training and experience of TelaDoc physicians in viral pandemic issues, as well as their thorough understanding of the antiviral prescriptions TamiFlu and Relenza."

Quinnian Health's Rapid Influenza Response Module provides employers with immediate access to Quinnian Health's Qhealth Platform, providing program participants with the education, health assessments, and prescriptions they need to receive medical countermeasures. To protect program participants from additional risk of infection, Quinnian Health is partnering with TelaDoc.

"The TelaDoc model is particularly applicable to pandemic preparedness since consults are conducted via telephone, insulating physicians from patients and possible exposure to germs," said Boxer. "Furthermore, physician telephone consults can be conducted at anytime and from anywhere, obviating the need for patients to leave home in order to access quality medical attention."

He claims that TelaDoc is in a unique position to address the current challenges with Swine Flu, offering people across the country rapid access to high quality medical care.

"Members can consult with a doctor without exposing others to the disease if they have it, or avoid exposing themselves at a doctor's office if they do not have the disease," said Boxer. "TelaDoc physicians gather information from concerned patients and determine if there is a high risk of exposure. During a consult, the doctor and patient quickly determine if urgent referral to the primary care physician or hospital emergency room is in order."

If it is determined during a consult that the risk for Swine Flu is high, the TelaDoc physician will recommend urgent referral to a doctor's office where confirmation of the disease can be determined with laboratory testing.

"This is important since the Centers for Disease Control use physician offices to monitor the disease," said Boxer. "TelaDoc is also in a unique position to release prophylactic medication to those who have been exposed, particularly those who hold a job that is critical for community functionality."

Historically, TelaDoc physicians have treated members for the flu, and it will continue to be at the discretion of each individual TelaDoc physician whether treatment, prophylaxis or urgent referral will be initiated at the time of the consult.

The TelaDoc service includes a free electronic health record (EHR) of each encounter, which is created upon enrollment in the service and made available electronically to the physician prior to and during each consult. The EHR is updated by the physician and becomes available to patients or their PCPs following the telephone consult.

"TelaDoc is more cost effective than a visit to the urgent care center or hospital emergency room, and a viable alternative when an individual's physician is not available," said Boxer. "TelaDoc does not replace the existing primary care physician relationship, but instead enhances it with an efficient, cost-effective option. Our model has proven to enhance access to quality medical care at lower cost for millions of Americans. "

Boxer also noted that TelaDoc physicians were available in 2008 to victims of Hurricane Ike, volunteering their services to thousands of people who did not have access to medical care or attention.

"For several months following this natural disaster, TelaDoc physicians played an important role in helping victims to address their individual or family healthcare issues," he said. "In an urgent situation, a doctor's office may not be accessible. TelaDoc physicians are always available to educate and alleviate concerns when the PCP is not available."

TelaDoc physicians are credentialed and covered by medical malpractice insurance provided by the TelaDoc Physician's Association. TelaDoc members have access to licensed physicians via the telephone 24- hours-a-day, 365 days a year.