ANN ARBOR, Mich. – There’s never a convenient time to be sick.
Now Michigan Medicine primary care patients can get online health care for minor illnesses such as flu, eye irritation or urinary problems at MyUofMhealth.org, just by using a smartphone, tablet or computer.
The virtual visits allow adult patients to get a care plan or prescription online from a health care provider in less than 24 hours for nonemergency conditions – no travel or parking required.
As flu season peaks, it makes "going to the doctor" easier for those who see a University of Michigan family medicine or general medicine physician.
“Michigan Medicine, and other health systems across the country, are looking for ways to be more responsive to what patients want,” says Larry An, M.D., medical director for the Telehealth Program at Michigan Medicine. “The greatest advantage is convenience and providing the right care to patients with minimal disruption to their daily lives.”
Called an eVisit, Michigan Medicine patients can use it for:
- Cough and flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, body aches and chills
- Vaginal discharge/irritation
- Red eye
- Sinus problems
- Urinary symptoms/painful urination
Adults can initiate an eVisit by signing on to MyUofMHealth.org and submitting a questionnaire. They answer a series of questions about their symptoms, similar to the questions they would be asked during an office visit.
The health care providers responding to eVisit requests are able to access the patient’s health record and review their health history.
If the questionnaire is submitted before noon, patients can expect a same-day response; otherwise patients receive a response in less than 24 hours.
For the online visit, patients pay $25 which is comparable to the amount charged for an office visit. It’s available 7 days a week.
The program was piloted last year at about half of the University of Michigan Health Centers. A reported 80 percent of patients who used eVisits were able to get the care they needed without going into the doctor’s office.
Online visits can also reduce unnecessary and costly trips to an emergency department for minor illnesses. An advantage during flu season, online visits can help keep sick patients at home and prevent spreading the flu virus to others.
“There will be times when patients must come in for a physical exam and follow-up. Part of providing quality care is knowing when those in-person visits are needed,” says An.
When patients are asked to come in to the office for a visit, there is no charge for the eVisit evaluation.
Virtual visits are not available for children, but in the next year or so online care may be extended to pediatrics and include video visits.
The advent of telemedicine and virtual visits is making an impact across Michigan Medicine.
The Michigan Medicine Surgery eClinic makes surgery follow-up appointments easier, especially for those who live far away, with a live video visit with their surgeon after an operation. The TeleStroke program connects stroke and neurology experts with Michigan hospitals to provide real-time stroke diagnosis and care.