E-Visits offer time-saving option for patients

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - For those ailments where the symptoms are common and the treatment routine, the doctor's visit could be a click away.

Stormont Vail recently launched E-Visits to patients within the Stormont and Cotton O'Neil system.

"Everyone is busy," said Mary Roy, APRN, with Cotton O'Neil Express Care. "This gives the patients a very quick, convenient way to access the health care system."

Stormont Vail launched E-Visits last March to its staff and, in January, expanded it to all Stormont and Cotton O'Neil patients. It operates through MyChart, a free account for any existing patient to create. MyChart already could be used for things like tracking appointments and seeing test results.

The system guides users through a series of questions to determine if the condition is appropriate for an E-Visit, or if a trip to an Express Care or ER is a better fit.

"(Symptoms for an E-Visit include) burning with urination, concern of a urinary tract infection, sinusitis, sore throat, rash, bronchitis - those kinds of things that are common," Roy said. "Common things happen commonly. These are often times symptoms that we can discuss through an E-Visit."

If the illness can be handled with an E-Visit, a provider will respond within the hour either with follow up questions, or a prescription or other course of treatment. They also can schedule a follow up visit.

In fact, scheduling is another new addition to MyChart. Patients can now go online to set appointments for office visits, physicals and mammograms with their existing providers.

Judy Corzine, Chief Information Officer for Stormont Vail, says the new additions are a logical progression of utilizing technology to improve patient care.

"You don't have to play phone tag," Corzine said. "You can go in the system, you can select an appointment time, our staff will validate that the appointment time works for you and for us and then we'll communicate back to you that the appointment is accepted."

There is a $45, out-of-pocket cost for an E-Visit, so a credit card is needed to initiate the process. Stormont points out that the amount is often less than an insurance co-pay for an office visit. The fee is waived if the patient is referred to another treatment option.

In addition, Stormont reminds people they still should seek emergency help for symptoms like chest pain or severe shortness of breath.