E-Visits and E-Consults Save Patients Time and Travel
E-visits and e-consults are two new options in the growing repertoire of virtual care alternatives offered at MidMichigan Health. Both options help patients avoid travel and in some cases to get care in the safety and comfort of home.
E-visits are a new electronic way for patients at MidMichigan Health to get personalized medical advice from a licensed practitioner for allergies, bites/stings, eye problems, acid reflux (GERD), rashes or urinary symptoms.
A symptom-specific e-visit enables patients to get personalized medical advice for certain non-emergency conditions without the need for a real-time appointment. E-Visits are available for allergies, bites/stings, eye problems, acid reflux (GERD), rashes or urinary symptoms. By logging into their MyMidMichigan account, patients can submit a secure questionnaire about their symptoms any time of the day or night and then receive a personalized plan of care from a MidMichigan Health provider within one business day. The plan of care may include elements such as advice on how to treat the condition at home, a prescription if needed, recommendations on whether to avoid public settings like work or school and suggestions for over-the-counter medications that may help alleviate symptoms.
“Unlike a video visit, this option doesn’t require a camera or smart device and can be conducted even when the office is closed,” said Steven Blodgett, Virtual Care manager at MidMichigan Health. “Patients have told us they like the safety of virtual care during the pandemic but are more comfortable getting medical advice from a local provider whom they trust and who is familiar with their medical record, rather than using a remote tele-doc service or generic information posted on websites. This new option complements our offerings of video visits and telemedicine, providing more ways that patients can get the care they need, when and where they need it.”
According to Blodgett, the cost for an e-visit is $25, and many insurance plans will cover e-visits in cases where a regular visit would be covered. Those who would like more information about e-visits may go to www.midmichigan.org/e-visits.
An e-consult is a secure electronic communication between a primary care provider and a specialist conducted within the patient’s chart. In many cases, an e-consult can help patients avoid a trip to the specialist by giving their primary care provider the information needed to continue managing their condition locally. In other cases, an e-consult confirms that a specialist appointment is needed and helps the primary care provider order the right tests ahead of time to ensure a more efficient and successful specialty visit.
“E-consults help with access to specialists and are appropriate for many circumstances where I as the primary care provider have a question about the next steps in management or evaluation that does not require the specialist to have an office visit or take over management,” said Family Medicine Physician Jennifer Balawender, D.O., of MidMichigan Physicians Group. “In other cases, while a patient is waiting for their appointment with a specialist, it enables me to get some guidance in the meantime.”
E-consults are currently available for a list of conditions within the fields of cardiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, psychiatry and neurology. The consultant specialists are employed by MidMichigan Health. If a primary care provider feels that this option may be beneficial to a patient, they will contact the patient to obtain consent and initiate the process.
Those who would like more information about this process may visit www.midmichigan.org/e-consults.