SUNRISE, Fla., Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- MDLIVE, a leader in the telemedicine industry has expanded its network of telemedicine physicians by creating a strategic partnership with Traverse City, MI based ECI Healthcare Partners Telehealth. The ECI Healthcare Partnership will give MDLIVE access to ECI HP's 2,300 Board Certified physicians, specializing in emergency medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. The exclusive partnership creates the largest virtual physician network in the nation and allows MDLIVE the scale to meet its growing demand, while maintaining excellent service and proven quality. In addition, ECI HP will bring more than 40 years of experience in healthcare to manage the MDLIVE Medical Group PA, which will include training, credentialing and managing the telehealth clinical protocols. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130109/FL39111) "Our partnership with ECI HP marks a major milestone in MDLIVE's evolution and comes at a time when a shortage of physicians is being felt across the nation," states Randy Parker CEO of MDLIVE. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a physician shortage in the U.S. was expected even before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. Now the group estimates that there will be a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015 and 130,600 by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. "At MDLIVE, we are focused on delivering quality healthcare on demand - when it is needed the most. ECI HP will, with their extensive experience and expansive network of physicians, enhance our commitment to provide anytime, anywhere access to quality patient care at an affordable price." Founded in 1972, ECI Healthcare Partners still maintains their single cherished principle: quality healthcare is achieved by valuing people. Over the years, they have efficiently managed the care of over 27 million patients in over 30 states and have developed into a network of professional services that reach well beyond emergency departments. As part of the arrangement, two of ECI Healthcare Partners leadership will join the MDLIVE Advisory Board - David Thompson, MD, CHC, FACEP, Chief Information Officer and Chief Medical Officer, SymMetric Revenue Solutions, and Derik K. King, MD, FACEP, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We plan to use our experience and knowledge of emergency medicine and treatment to bring new and innovative ideas to MDLIVE's physician network ," stated Dr. King. Telehealth a Growing IndustryWhen asked about the significance of the ECI HP and MDLIVE partnership, John Sculley, current MDLIVE Board Member and former CEO of Apple Computer and Pepsi, referred to a March 2012 report by the Wellesley, Mass.-based market research firm, BCC Research. "Current predictions are that the global telehealth market is expected to double from $11.6 billion in 2011 to about $27.3 billion in 2016, evidence that technology is playing an essential role in the transformation of a healthcare system in need of new and scalable solutions. From the healthcare perspective, the ability to triage a large population and direct patients to immediate, affordable and quality care sets the gold standard for telehealth. ECI HP and MDLIVE are clearly demonstrating the ability to leverage new technologies with medical best practices for virtual consultations that will benefit patients, the healthcare industry and the nation." The Consumerization of TelehealthMDLIVE is also on the forefront of the consumerization of Telehealth. According to a report from the National Center for Policy Analysis, 55 percent of the 114 million visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs) in a given year are for non-emergencies. It also notes that the cost of unnecessary visits to physicians' offices and EDs totals nearly $31 billion annually, or about $300 per American household per year. "MDLIVE's telehealth solution offers individuals with non-emergency medical needs the option to get excellent care when they need it, from wherever they are, at a price they can afford. It also stands to reduce unnecessary traffic to the nation's already strained EDs," states Parker. MDLIVE is already making a difference in where Americans go for care. ABOUT MDLIVE:Founded in 2006, MDLIVE is a leading telehealth provider of online and on-demand healthcare delivery services and software that benefit patients, hospitals, employers, payers, physician practice groups and accountable-care organizations. Headquartered in Sunrise, Florida, MDLIVE works with Board Certified physicians in all 50 states to provide around-the-clock virtual healthcare. Their cloud-based Virtual Medicine Office software platform makes it possible for patients, medical professionals and plan administrators to collaborate seamlessly and securely via voice, video, email and mobile devices. Payers and providers can also utilize the HIPAA and PHI-compliant system to collect and share clinical data from patient medical records, lab results and in-home biometric devices for real-time risk assessments, wellness advice, diagnosis and treatment.