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Local Hospitals Allow Patients to Check in Electronically for Minor Illnesses

CoxHealth and Mercy e-visits let patients check in with their doctor online
Joann Wolf, a Mercy patient, using the e-visit function through MyMercy. Photo Credit: Mercy.net

Hospitals know that the holidays can be a difficult time for patients to schedule an appointment with their doctors. That’s why two Springfield health care providers allow some patients to meet with their doctor without having to walk out of the house. KSMU’s Kaitlyn Schwers has more on these “e-visits.”

The offerings from Mercy and CoxHealth allow people to meet with their doctor electronically for minor illnesses such as sinus infections, allergies, or heartburn.

Brad Haller, media relations coordinator for Mercy, says more patients have been scheduling e-visits through MyMercy, an online service.

“It was in July of this year that we actually had expanded it to all of our adult primary care physicians and after that, that was when the numbers started going up. From about an average of 100 e-visits per month to more than 400 now,” Haller says.

With Mercy, patients fill out an online form describing their symptoms to their doctor. The form is then sent to their doctor’s secure inbox. Patients should receive a response that day, as long as it is submitted before 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Joann Wolf, a Mercy patient in Springfield, says she has taken advantage of the e-visit program a couple of times, paying $35 each time she uses it.

“As far as the convenience and being able to have them maybe figure out what’s going on and be able to send out something without me taking the time to go in was worth whatever difference it might have been [for an in office visit],” she explains.

For Mercy clinics outside of Springfield, Haller adds that an e-visit may be the cost of a typical co-pay.

Cox also offers a similar e-visit program through CoxHealth Express for a co-pay of $30. Heidi Hartman, a strategist for Population Health Management, says that all Cox clinics allow e-visit requests for allergies, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and for anxiety and depression. Patients also fill out a form that is sent to their physician.

“We definitely want patients to know it’s available and to use it when they can, but also to understand that of course there are some types of illnesses that you just can’t usually get a physician to prescribe or treat without being seen in person,” Hartman explains.

Cox and Mercy’s e-visit programs can be accessed through a computer, tablet, or smartphone. All patients are encouraged to know who their doctor is first before requesting an e-visit. For more information on e-visits, visit CoxHealth.com or Mercy.net.

For KSMU News, I’m Kaitlyn Schwers.