Sam’s Club is throwing its hat into the telehealth arena by partnering with 98point6 to offer subscriptions for an initial quarterly charge of $20 and quarterly renewals after that priced at $33.50.
The subscription to the 98point6 app provides access to physicians to diagnose and treat more than 400 common conditions like rash, cough and cold, flu-like symptoms and seasonal allergies, as well as provide care, guidance, and monitoring of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Sam’s Club members using the 98point6 app can also get necessary prescriptions or labs ordered, the retailer said.
The service is open to Club members and Plus members who will get $1 doctor visits through the telehealth app available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Sam’s said the virtual visits will be with U.S. board-certified doctors who work through the 98point6 platform.
Sam’s also negotiated a yearly membership option for members at $120 who would rather pay annually. Members will also have access to pediatric care for additional subscribed family members ages 1 and older. The number of visits per quarter is unlimited for members and no other insurance is needed. Members can download the 98point6 app and sign up for the service at SamsClub.com.
“Offering access to telemedicine was on our roadmap in the pre-COVID world, but the current environment expedited the need for this service to be easily accessible, readily available and most of all, affordable,” said John McDowell, vice president, pharmacy operations and divisional merchandise at Sam’s Club.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, other retailers from CVS to Walmart and Walgreens have also launched or expanded their healthcare programs around telehealth.
During the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit on Wednesday (Oct. 21), Sashi Padarthy, of Cognizant healthcare practice spoke about the growth of telemedicine amid the pandemic. He said the “care anywhere” model of telehealth is quickly gaining traction as the traditional healthcare industry is expected to suffer losses of $323 billion this year forcing more compression throughout the sector. He said consumers have turned to telehealth options in the pandemic. In 2020, telehealth visits will comprise 20% of total doctor visits.
The top 10 specialties now using telemedicine include endocrinology to manage diabetes, rheumatology for chronic arthritis patients, gastroenterology, nephrology, cardiology, urology, neurology, geriatrics, oncology and pulmonology.
Padarthy said as much as 20% of the $246 billion in ambulatory and primary healthcare could be virtualized this year alone. He said the growth in medical services performed via telemedicine in the next three years will likely more than triple to $106 billion by 2023.
Cognizant said in the next five years telehealth could radically change the industry as more consumers began to move to a customer-to-business model cutting out all the providers and service aggregators in the middle resulting in a lower cost model from 25% to 60% savings over traditional care.
Cognizant said the market is ripe for disruption and evolution and it is being driven by technology, computer visualization and globalization that’s working to break down and delocalize large portions of the industry. He said costs will decline as healthcare moves from multiple players operating alone on volume-based reimbursements to a system where more care is delivered through integrated models that leverage telepresence and mobility tools. Cognizant predicts that the complete transition from the status quo to the sustainable, lower-cost model could take place by 2025.