By Christine Kern, contributing writer
New service lets patients “skip the trip” and receive convenient, safe, affordable treatment online.
As pressure mounts for healthcare organizations to provide better, safer care at lower costs, many hospitals and providers are turning to telemedicine to meet these goals. One of the latest to adopt virtual care is St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Bridgeport, CT and member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.
St. Vincent’s announced it is making it easier for patients to receive care for common health conditions with the launch of MYvirtualcare.com, an online diagnosis and treatment service powered by Zipnosis that connects patients with St. Vincent’s clinicians. MYvirtualcare.com lets patients receive prompt care for conditions such as sinus infections, female bladder infections, pink eye, colds, coughs, and the flu for a set fee of $35, less than the cost of many insurance co-pays.
“With MYvirtualcare.com, patients can skip the trip to the doctor’s office and still get the care they need, when and how they need it,” said Dianne Auger, Senior Vice president, Chief Strategy Officer, St. Vincent’s Medical Center. “We are excited to be at the leading edge of this new technology, which is taking healthcare beyond bricks and mortar and into the virtual realm.”
The virtual visit begins with an adaptive online interview that follows the latest evidence-based medical guidelines and is comparable to what they would experience in a face-to-face office visit with a physician. The patient’s medical history and symptoms are then forwarded to a St. Vincent’s provider for review and diagnosis and the patient is alerted by text or email alert when the diagnosis and treatment plan are complete, typically within one hour.
If a prescription is appropriate, MYvirtualcare.com allows the provider to send it electronically to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice. If the clinician determines that the patient’s symptoms require a face-to-face visit, St. Vincent’s staff will help the patient to book that appointment, as well.
“By launching MYvirtualcare.com, St. Vincent’s is improving clinical care one click at a time by making it easy for patients and healthcare providers to connect online without sacrificing quality,” said Jon Pearce, co-founder and CEO of Zipnosis. “We look forward to working with St. Vincent’s to meet the ever-changing needs of their patients and clinicians.”
Earlier this spring, Tandigm Health announced the expansion of its pilot telehealth program into a full-scale telemedicine initiative, connecting physicians and patients via TouchCare telephonic and video support to improve access, engagement, and health outcomes, as Health IT Outcomes reported.
These initiatives are good news as GBI research indicates telehealth has the potential to reduce healthcare costs while simultaneously delivering medical services to underserved or rural communities. GBI found that advancements in mobile technology and applications, along with interest in cost-effective healthcare and rising populations, are driving the growth of telehealth.