Newswise — Innovative new technology will make Rush University Medical Center among the first health care providers in the United States to offer primary care patients the convenience of an online medical evaluation service. Called Rush SmartExam, the web-based application will allow a patient to conduct an electronic consultation (or e-visit) with a physician, who will determine a diagnosis and treatment plan that may include prescriptions. Rush will begin offering SmartExam to some patients in April, making it the first provider in Illinois to use the service.
“Patients will be able to get a medical evaluation electronically from the comfort of their home for non-urgent conditions commonly treated by a primary care physician,” said Dr. Anthony Perry, one of the e-visit practicing physicians and chief medical officer for Rush University Medical Group. “People have busy lives and we want to create convenient and high-quality options that work.”
Patients who live half an hour or more from the doctor’s office may especially appreciate the service.
“When someone doesn’t feel well, it may be difficult for them to get out of bed and walk or drive to a doctor’s office. Having an e-visit is a convenient way for patients to get advice for common health issues, such as coughs, colds, flu, and ear pain,” said Dr. Christen Tibbs, assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush and another of the e-visit participating physicians.
How e-visits are done
Patients age 18 and older who have an established primary care physician at Rush and have visited that doctor at Rush within the last year can use the service. They have to register for the service via MyChart, Rush’s secure online health records system, and then would be able to make the electronic visit by logging into rush.smartexam.com.
Each patient will answer approximately 25 to 75 questions that gather information about the patient’s symptoms. The questionnaire typically takes patients 12 minutes on average to complete.
Once a questionnaire is completed, SmartExam sends it to participating Rush providers, who will receive a text message alerting them that a patient is waiting to receive care. The doctor then can log in from any device and review the information gathered from the patient, along with an automatically, computer-generated diagnosis based on a sophisticated algorithm. The diagnosis uses the information gathered from the patient questionnaire and provides physicians with a thorough, personalized, and evidence-based set of information to support the diagnosis and recommended treatment.
The doctor decides on the best course of treatment, and then SmartExam emails the patient a link to the after visit summary. Any prescriptions that are issued as a result of the visit are sent to a pharmacy designated by the patient, and the patient then is charged for the visit. The entire e-visit is completed in less than an hour and costs $30 payable by credit card (not payable by health insurance), which is collected at the beginning of the session but is not charged until diagnosis and treatment is delivered.
Electronic visits with Rush physicians will be available between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, excluding holidays.
“If we determine that the patient has a condition that requires more thorough, personal analysis and examination, we will advise the patient to see a provider in person,” Tibbs said.
E-visits cover many minor ailments
If a patient is too sick for an e-visit and is advised to come in for an office visit, the patient will be exited from the e-visit at no charge. Patients exited from the e-visit clinical interview will be directed to set up an appointment using MyChart or enter a phone number to be contacted directly to schedule an appointment.
“We suggest a patient review the conditions prior to starting the process to make sure it isn’t something that would require an in-office visit,” said Tibbs.
The visits are for low-acuity conditions including the following:
Acne* Bladder infection Burn or sunburn* Cough, cold or allergy Ear pain Flu Rashes and other skin conditions* Sinus pain or pressure Sore throat *Photo required