Last updated on April 6th, 2022 at 10:52 am
Got the flu but don’t want to leave the comfort of your own home?
That’s not a problem with Aurora Health Care. The doctor will see you now – on your phone.
The health care system recently launched a new service that allows patients to have a virtual appointment with a doctor via mobile device or computer.
Called “Video Visit,” the service expands Aurora’s telemedicine offerings, following the health system’s rollout last year of e-visits – a service that allows patients to email a physician about their condition and receive a response or diagnosis within an hour.
“The Video Visit is a way to provide easier, faster access to health care services through a video visit mechanism,” said Andy Anderson, chief medical officer for Aurora. “So a patient is able to stay in their home environment and connect directly to a physician through their computer or mobile device and get care quickly and efficiently.”
The Video Visit service is designed for patients with common conditions, like cold, flu, headache, sinus infection or red eye, among others.
Patients can either log on to Aurora.org/videovisit on a computer or download the Video Visit app through an app store to access the video appointments. Patients are asked a series of questions, including the reason for their visit and whether they need a language interpreter, and then are able to select from a list of available physicians. The physician profiles include background information and their five-star rating based on prior visits.
From there, the Aurora platform functions similarly to Skype or FaceTime.
“The patient can see the physician, and the physician can see the patient – and the patient can show the physician a rash or a physical sign that they might have,” Anderson said. “Then they can have a live chat about what they’re feeling.”
The physician can then prescribe medication if necessary, or just give advice on how to remedy the condition from home. If a patient has more severe symptoms, Anderson said, he or she would be directed to be seen in person at an urgent care center or the emergency room.
The physician has access to the patient’s full electronic records – medical history, medications and previous visits – and the video visit is logged just as any other appointment would be. A pool of physicians is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the Video Visits.
Typical appointments last around 10 minutes. The video appointments cost a flat fee of $49, and insurance is accepted.
It’s a cost effective alternative to a traditional appointment or emergency room visit, Anderson said.
“It’s going to be relatively quick, and it’s certainly going to be a whole lot quicker than having to get in your car and drive to a doctor’s office or urgent care,” Anderson said. “It will save a lot of time.”
As the telemedicine trend takes off, Aurora and Functional Medicine Associates joins a growing number of providers offering similar services.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin’s health network has offered a 24/7 “Virtual Clinic” via webcam since 2015, at the same fee as Aurora. Launched in an effort to meet patients where they are and eliminate barriers to receiving care, the service has become popular among patients, a spokesperson with Froedtert said.
Anderson said he sees the video appointments as a supplement to traditional services, not a replacement of patients’ relationships with health care practitioners.
“The long-term relationship between a patient and doctor is critical, especially for patients that have chronic illnesses or things like blood pressure control, diabetes or asthma,” Anderson said. “They really need to have that longer term, continuity relationship with a physician. These are meant to supplement for convenience sake for things like the common cold or an episode of diarrhea, where a patient can stay in their own home setting and get quick advice.”