KeyCare partners with Samaritan Health Services to offer virtual urgent care

Steven Loeb · March 27, 2024 · Short URL:

Samaritan is a nonprofit network of hospitals, clinics, and health services caring for 265k patients

Since the pandemic, health systems have been looking to offer more virtual care services, but that's easier said than done. Often, their internal providers are overwhelmed, and their options for partners are limited to third parties who use poorly integrated technologies. That leads to a situation where they often can't meet patient demand.

KeyCare is a company on a mission to ensure that health systems can provide patients with a more consistent, higher quality experience. The company, which built its platform with Epic, provides them with virtual care services, allowing health systems to augment their care teams and optimize capacity by partnering with a nationwide network of virtual care groups.

On Tuesday, KeyCare announced a new partnership with Samaritan Health Services to provide 24x7, national virtual urgent care services to its patients.  

Samaritan is a nonprofit network of hospitals, clinics, and health services caring for more than 265,000 residents in the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon coast. Starting on March 19, Samaritan patients have been able to pay $59 for a virtual visit at or Video visits are done with KeyCare clinicians who can prescribe medications (excluding controlled substances), but not order laboratory or imaging tests. 

"Samaritan has never had an on-demand urgent care option. So, now their patients, including many who live in rural areas, can receive on-demand virtual urgent care visits 24x7x365 via the Samaritan MyChart patient portal," said Lyle Berkowitz, MD, CEO of KeyCare.

"If Samaritan cannot offer quick access to routine care for their patients, then they risk both leakage to other sites (which hurts both quality and the bottom line), as well as inappropriate emergency room use, which is problematic for many reasons."

In addition to the services it provides to health systems, Keycare also allows patients to schedule appointments with a variety of Virtualists via their own health system's MyChart portal or call center. The Virtualists then complete the encounter on KeyCare’s Epic platform; the patient's data is made available to the Virtualists, and their virtual care notes are sent back into the health system’s EHR.

Since raising its last funding round in January 2023, KeyCare has gone live with on-demand urgent care, and its virtual care marketplace of solutions has expanded to include scheduled urgent care, primary care, behavioral health and other specialties, such as rheumatology.

With this new partnership, KeyCare has now signed agreements with 15 Epic-based health systems across the nation, representing over 130 hospitals, 39,000 physicians and $55 billion in revenue, while also being in contracting with many more. 

KeyCare's purpose is to improve access to healthcare for all, especially since rural health systems are often hit hardest with access issues, Berkowitz explained, which is why this partnership with Samaritan is so important, as the two organizations will work together "on a variety of ways to expand access, starting with urgent care and expanding to other areas over time."

"Samaritan is an important health system servicing the state of Oregon, and like most health systems, hiring new physicians has been a challenge," he said.

"Partnering with KeyCare allows them to let their office-based providers focus on the more complex patients who need to be seen in person, while ensuring patients with more routine issues can be seen more quickly and more easily via KeyCare's virtual care team in a way that ensures coordination of care via sharing of patient data between our two Epic instances."

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