MCS, 1st health plan in Puerto Rico to offer a telemedicine platform for medical providers
MCS is the first insurer in Puerto Rio to market the MCS TeleCare telemedicine platform to offer primary care physicians assigned to medical groups (IPAs) and certain specialists a secure and cost-free option for performing teleconsultations with their patients.
In 2019, the Puerto Rico Health Department established the regulation to control the use and practice of telemedicine on the Island, just a few months before a state of public health emergency was declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of the emergency, MCS was the first in the industry to respond by acquiring this telemedicine platform whose use is free of charge for selected medical providers.
The new MCS TeleCare platform was introduced to the Puerto Rican market at the right historical moment. However, being a new concept on the island, adopting telemedicine entails complying with strict requirements established by the Puerto Rico Department of Health. Even though there are certain waivers in place due to the pandemic, regular requirements mandate that telemedicine must be practiced through a secure, reliable, and HIPAA-compliant platform.
MCS TeleCare facilitates compliance with each one of these requirements and allows for the adoption of this technology at a time when the need for remote health care still prevails. For healthcare providers, acquiring a platform that complies with all the provisions of the local regulations would have represented a significant investment, not to mention the investment involved in becoming certified to practice telemedicine in accordance with the regulations.
Because it is fully compliant and free of cost, the MCS telemedicine platform is an innovative solution that saves the provider a considerable amount of money by not having to invest in a dedicated platform for their medical office. It also benefits MCS insureds and members by facilitating their access to quality healthcare services with the assurance that their private information will remain secure and their risk of exposure to COVID-19 will be minimized.
A common factor in epidemics is the high number of patients overcrowding hospitals at any given time. This can have a negative impact on even the most developed healthcare systems, including in Puerto Rico due to the high numbers of people with chronic conditions who are vulnerable to COVID-19. However, telemedicine can counteract this by helping to relieve congestion in emergency rooms and reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
To put the situation in perspective, people over the age of 65, as well as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In Puerto Rico, about 35.4% of the elderly population suffers from diabetes and 15.2% suffers from asthma.
Given the spread of coronavirus in Puerto Rico, these data represent a major challenge for the Island’s health care system and highlight the risk to the health of the elderly. Nonetheless, MCS will continue to be proactive in its emergency response to protect the vulnerable population with chronic conditions.
The MCS TeleCare telemedicine platform is now available to providers through the Provinet website. A section within Provinet has been made available to educate on the subject of telemedicine. This way, MCS contributes to keeping its providers up to date on regulatory, billing, and procedural issues.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is sponsored by MCS Puerto Rico.]