Newswise — Beaumont Health recently launched the first of three technology pilot programs that enable patients to communicate with their physicians and care providers through virtual visits including e-visits, video visits and electronic check-ins.
The pilot programs are currently in use at about 10 physician offices in Royal Oak, St. Clair Shores, Troy and other cities.
Virtual visits are among a number of medical technology initiatives being assessed to meet the growing demand for easier, more convenient ways for patients to connect with health care providers, eliminating the need for an office visit for non-emergent medical concerns, such as allergies, a cough or cold.
For participating physicians, this is an exciting, new way to enhance patient communication and interaction.
“As time goes on, technology is enhancing our ability to communicate,” said Richard Cooke, M.D., St. Clair Shores Family Medicine. “This is another avenue that helps make the delivery of medicine more efficient and, in many cases, it’s better for patients.”
The e-visit pilot allows patients to log into the Beaumont patient portal, MyBeaumontChart, select their condition from a list and then answer condition-specific questions. The physician logs-in, evaluates the patient’s current medical conditions, allergies, health issues and symptoms to recommend the most appropriate treatment. The physician can also order medication or lab work to complete the visit.
During the pilot phase, eligible conditions for e-visits include back pain, sinus issues, chest cold, cough, pink eye and urinary problems.
“This really complements what we’re already doing and provides the ability to see patients in a whole new way,” said Trevor Ripley, M.D., Troy Family Medicine.” If you know a patient well and already have a relationship with them, this technology will make things easier as far as time is concerned.”
Enhancing and expanding access to care and improving patient communication is one of the driving forces behind the initiatives set to launch this year. While e-visits have been up and running for a short period of time, Beaumont Health is also preparing to launch features allowing patients to connect with their physician via remote video conferencing, in addition to streamlining the online bill pay process.
“We are all moving toward electronic systems very cautiously,” added Dr. Cooke. “A number of safeguards have been put in place to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible. We’ve included protocols and guidelines for patients that are built into the questionnaire for the electronic visit to occur.”
These initiatives are intended to establish convenient access points for Beaumont Health patients – especially those with limited mobility, those living in rural areas or those whose condition does not require physical interaction.
Subra Sripada, executive vice president, chief transformation officer & chief information officer, Beaumont Health, said, “In today’s tech-savvy world, patients want more information at their fingertips, more quickly. The Beaumont e-visit and video technologies are an innovative and secure way to meet these needs. It allows patients to remotely communicate from anywhere in order for us to manage their care and overall health.”
Telehealth services are just one more step in the health care technology evolution and are expected to enhance patient and physician engagement while connecting patients with convenient, high-quality and secure electronic care. Insurance coverage for these services is currently under review by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. In a recent report, CMS approved the use of video telemedicine for Medicare visits beginning in July. They said it’s a service delivery model that does not replace the face-to-face encounter with health care providers, but the use of telemedicine for these interactions can be met virtually through delivery models recognized by the state.
There are no additional costs associated with the technologies and services available during the Beaumont pilot period.
For more information about locations and physicians participating in this pilot, contact Brian Vargo, pilot project lead and senior consultant, at 248-551-9870.