|Frequently Asked Questions|
What is the RelayHealth service?
RelayHealth is a secure, Web-based doctor-patient service that makes it easy for you to communicate with your doctor's office. You can request appointments, renew prescriptions, ask non-urgent questions, and receive lab results all from your computer. Use a RelayHealth webVisit® to consult your doctor about non-urgent medical care needs. Your financial responsibility for a webVisit is the same as it is for an office visit.
What are the highlights of this online service?
Why did Aetna decide to cover online consultations?
Aetna is committed to using technology to make it easier for physicians to do business, facilitate communications between physicians and their patients, and help improve patient safety.
How secure are online communications?
Unlike e-mail, RelayHealth uses a single, centrally managed database for doctor-patient communications. These communications cannot be read en route, deleted, copied or altered. The RelayHealth service requires a sign-in identification and password, and can only be accessed by registered users. Patients using the service can see an audit trail detailing who has looked at their record, and can end their online relationship with a doctor at any time. This prevents access to any medical information communicated via RelayHealth in the future.Who within the doctors' office has the authority to reply to a member's communication? How do members know who is responding? When patients receive a reply from the physician's office, it will be clear who has responded--the message will either be sent "From [Physician]", or "By [staff member] on behalf of [Physician]".
How quickly does a doctor need to respond to a member's online requests?
The RelayHealth format limits the consultation to non-emergency conditions. If the member has a medical emergency or something that requires an immediate answer, he or she should call the physician's office or seek emergency care. RelayHealth encourages doctors to respond within eight hours for each message type, and provides online tools for the practice/physician to monitor message response times. Each doctor and his/her staff have the ability to set their response time by message type.
What types of providers does this service include?
Primary care physicians — specifically, family practice, general medicine, internal medicine, pediatricians and Ob/Gyns, are included, along with certain specialists (View list of physician types).
Are any Aetna plans excluded from this offering?
At this time, coverage for online visits will not be available to members of plans administered by Strategic Resource Company (SRC) or Aetna Signature Administrators (ASA). Currently, members in Aetna's Medicare Advantage HMO plan in California are included, but Medicare members in other states are not eligible to participate. In addition, Aetna Student Health(ASH) members can participate in this service.
How will Aetna members enroll and use these online services?
How will a member know if his or her doctor participates in this service ?
There are several ways a provider can be identified.
Is there a charge for members to use this service?
You will pay the same cost-sharing for a webVisit as you would for an office visit. A webVisit will be covered by Aetna if your employer has signed up for this service. Check with your employer or Aetna Member Services to see if this service is available to you.
What is the cost of a webVisit, and can it vary for any reason?
A member's financial responsibility for a webVisit is the same as it is for an office visit. Any required copays or deductibles will be charged in the same manner they are applied for office visits. This includes plans that have health funds, when the fund limit has been reached. As always, a member's responsibility depends on the terms of his or her plan, which may vary.
How is member responsibility calculated in a consumer-directed health plan (CDHP)?
Members in CDHPs who have used up their fund will be responsible for the cost of the webVisit, just as they would be for an office visit. If a member has not yet met the plan's deductible, the webVisit charge will be applied to the deductible, just as a charge for an office visit would be applied.
Will disputes over claims related to this program be handled like other Aetna claims?
Yes, members and physicians can use Aetna's existing processes for claim disputes related to online consultations.
How do Aetna members benefit from these services?
Aetna members can benefit from greater access to their physicians, reduced waiting time for test results, and faster routine communications such as appointment scheduling. In addition, by interacting with their physician online, members can avoid leaving work for an office visit. Online communications offers members the flexibility to contact their doctors' office at any time of the day or night. Since physicians can send prescriptions and refills online, consumers also avoid additional trips to the pharmacy. In addition, members who use their RelayHealth Personal Health Record can work with their doctor to more actively manage their own care.
If a patient uses the "convenience service" to schedule an office visit, is the patient reminded of his or her visit through a follow up email message?
Yes. The provider may set a "rule" while scheduling the visit to send a reminder notification to the patient regarding their scheduled appointment. This rule can be set to send notification for one or two days in advance of the scheduled appointment. The patient will receive a message in their specified email box letting them know they have a message waiting for them in their RelayHealth account.
How can a physician be sure that a webVisit accurately captures a patient’s true health status or concerns, so that appropriate treatment is recommended to the patient during the webVisit?
The interaction between patient and doctor through a webVisit is handled in a structured way for limited conditions. The online consultation can be used only for non-emergency conditions. The online form provides a framework that helps physicians collect adequate, condition-specific information that will be useful for making clinically appropriate decisions.
Note: if the physician determines an office visit is needed in addition to the webVisit, the member is responsible for both copays, as described in her or her plan. It is important to point out that the member’s physician can waive the fee for a webVisit in these situations. Members can discuss this with their physician, as they would discuss any other financial responsibility matters at any time.
Disputes over claims related to this program are handled like other Aetna claims. Members and physicians can use Aetna’s existing processes for claim disputes related to online consultations.
How is the online service offered through RelayHealth different from Aetna's Informed Health® Line?
Aetna's Informed Health Line nurses provide information on various health topics by telephone. However, they cannot treat a member, or prescribe medications. A webVisit through RelayHealth is actually an online visit between an individual patient and his or her doctor. Just as a member would have a financial responsibility for an actual office visit, there is a similar responsibility for an online visit. A call into the Informed Health Line is not the same as a visit to the doctor's office.
If a member uses the reimbursable webVisit feature, and the doctor then determines an office visit is required, will the member be charged both the webVisit and office visit copays? If the member is charged twice, is there any recourse?
Aetna and RelayHealth consider it to be the individual physician's responsibility to decide how to handle a particular patient's medical treatment, based on the information and specific symptoms the patient provides through the structured, online consultation Web screens.
If the physician determines an office visit is needed in addition to the webVisit, the member is responsible for both copays, as described in his or her plan. The member needs to take this into consideration when deciding how to communicate his or her health concern to the health care provider. The member can choose to use the webVisit, or can contact the health care provider and schedule an office visit.
It is important to point out that the member's physician can waive the fee for a webVisit in these situations. Members can discuss this with their physician, as they would discuss any other financial responsibility matters, at any time.
Can members use physicians who may be in RelayHealth's network, but not in Aetna's network?
Aetna members must use an Aetna-participating physician with whom they have an existing physician-patient relationship.
Is confidential patient information, such as lab data results, protected?
Yes. Unlike e-mail, which relies on multiple servers across the Internet, RelayHealth uses a single, centrally managed database for doctor-patient communications. These communications cannot be read en route, deleted, copied or altered. The RelayHealth service requires a sign-in identification and password, and can only be accessed by registered users. Patients using the service can see an audit trail detailing who has looked at their record, and can end their online relationship with a doctor at any time. This prevents access to any medical information communicated via RelayHealth in the future.
How many doctors in the Aetna network participate in RelayHealth's networks? How many RelayHealth doctors, including specialists, could Aetna members potentially contact for other services such as scheduling online appointments, and prescription refills?
Members in any state where participating doctors in the Aetna network are also enrolled in the RelayHealth service can use RelayHealth participating physicians, including specialists, for "free" online services.
The number of participating physicians changes from month to month. Members can go to DocFind on Aetna's website to find participating physicians.
Is there a list of the types of webVisits that are available?
Yes, there are over 145 webVisit interviews, including both chronic and non-urgent acute symptoms, available through RelayHealth. In addition, physicians can customize the list of which webVisits to make available to their patient panel.
How will members know which services are covered when interacting with the RelayHealth website?
The RelayHealth website will inform the patient about what aspects of the online visit will be covered. The website also informs the patient of payment options (credit card; debit card, etc). There is no charge for the "convenience services" - setting up an appointment, obtaining a refill, requesting lab results.
Can a member join at any time?
Aetna members who have an established relationship with a doctor who is contracted with Aetna and RelayHealth may register with RelayHealth for the services at any time.
At what point during a webVisit does the member eligibility verification occur?
Members first register and then can log in any time. Once logged in, they can choose any of the message categories that their physician offers - such as scheduling an appointment or conducting a webVisit. When they choose the webVisit option, they select the physician they want to send the webVisit to, and then verify their health plan. The eligibility verification occurs before the member begins answering any questions related to the webVisit. If they are eligible, the webVisit is permitted. If not, the member receives a message telling them they are not eligible to conduct the webVisit.
How does RelayHealth prevent a member who is not eligible for coverage of a webVisit from submitting one after registering on the RelayHealth website?
RelayHealth runs an eligibility check any time a patient attempts a webVisit. During the eligibility check, RelayHealth will determine if the member is eligible for coverage of the webVisit. RelayHealth will alert the member when Aetna will not cover the visit, but give the member the option to conduct the visit at his or her own cost. Any member who has a relationship with a provider who is contracted with RelayHealth can use the "convenience services" for free even if their employer does not offer this service to its employees.
Using this service for prescription drug orders/refills
Can RelayHealth support prescription drug orders and refills utilizing non-Aetna pharmacy programs?
Yes, the current online program can support non-Aetna pharmacy plans.
How does the e-prescribing work?
When a member registers to use the RelayHealth service, he/she can select a preferred pharmacy, including Aetna's Rx Home Delivery® service, to which the doctor's office should send prescriptions. If a pharmacy has not been selected, the prescription will be directed to the member with a one-time option to electronically route the specific prescription to a pharmacy of their choice. The patient cannot print or alter the prescription. Prescriptions are faxed to the selected pharmacy.
Does RelayHealth support electronic routing of prescriptions to a pharmacy for refills?
Yes, members may send the prescription one time.
In addition to supporting Aetna Pharmacy Management (APM) prescriptions, does RelayHealth support interaction with other retail pharmacies? Are there any exclusions?
Members may use this service to obtain prescriptions from a large list of pharmacies on RelayHealth's website, including most retail pharmacies and APM. The standard Aetna exclusions apply.
Will this service support Aetna Specialty Pharmacy® prescriptions with a one-time fill at retail?
Aetna Specialty Pharmacy prescriptions are not supported through this service.