Zipnosis teams up with Fairview to offer patients online treatment

by Symptom Advice on December 12, 2011

Zipnosis, a St. Paul-based startup that offers online treatment for a limited set of health conditions, is now partnering with the Minneapolis-based Fairview health system to provide the service, according to an announcement Thursday.

In August, Zipnosis officials said the company’s previous partner – Park Nicollet Health Services, based in St. Louis Park – was not renewing its contract.

The startup competes in the nascent online health business against services from Bloomington-based HealthPartners and Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Fairview doctors, in fact, already provide consultations through the Blue Cross service, which is called Online Care anywhere.

“We have been collaborating with Blue Cross and Blue Shield for the past year around a different virtual care platform that uses video visits,” said Terry Martinson, executive regional medical director for Fairview Medical Group. “Our relationship with Zipnosis won’t affect our relationship with…Blue Cross.”

Differences exist among all three services in terms of prices, hours of operation and the number of conditions treated.

Zipnosis offers treatment plans for about 10 basic conditions such as urinary tract infections and sinus infections. Patients complete an online interview about their symptoms that is reviewed by a clinician who sends a treatment plan.

Starting in January, Fairview clinicians will respond to the inquiries, providing plans within an hour between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, Martinson said. If symptoms suggest a more serious condition, Zipnosis will give patients a phone number to speak with Fairview nurses.

Zipnosis and Fairview did not disclose the financial terms of their agreement, although Martinson said that Fairview will get a portion of each $25 fee collected by the online service. The partnership also gives the health system a chance to attract new patients, he said.

In August, Park Nicollet said it was considering options other than Zipnosis for continuing to provide online diagnosis and treatment, although there has been no further announcement on the subject.

Meanwhile, HealthPartners says that its online care service Virtuwell is now regarded as a network provider in many health plans from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. That means some Blue Cross members – like many with HealthPartners insurance – will have some or all costs of their Virtuwell visits covered, said Jeff Shelman, a spokesman for HealthPartners.

Christopher Snowbeck can be reached at 651-228-5479. Follow him at

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