Missourians now have another option when it comes to seeking treatment for minor illnesses. CoxHealth has expanded its telemedicine service, DirectConnect, to individuals. Previously, it had been offered only to employers.
Bridget O’Hara, product manager at Cox, said it’s an affordable option for those who need care—each “visit” is $49—and she said it frees up space in the ER and urgent care.
According to O’Hara, the service is easy to use. She compares it to using Skype or Face Time.
"You'll see that person on the other end of the screen. They can use their smart phones, their tablets, their computers as long as it has a web cam and an internet connection, you can see that person and then they can do a quick evaluation," she said.
Medical providers on the other end of the connection use medical history reviews, a visual exam, an interview with the patient and the provider’s training of pattern recognition to diagnose the patient.
O’Hara said common ailments such as coughs, colds, upper respiratory infections, allergies, bug bites and stings and sore throats can be treated using telemedicine. Some conditions still require an in-person doctor visit.
Chris Bauman (BAW-mun), executive director of operations at Ozark Schools, said they started using the service a couple of years ago. He said it’s allowed staff to stay at work. For example, one employee is highly allergic to poison ivy and has had to take off work in the past to see a doctor.
"And this individual on two different occasions was able to log onto the system using an iPad, connect with the doctor, be seen on their lunch, go by and pick up their prescription and didn't miss work at all," he said.
According to Bauman, they’ve received a grant that will allow them to begin offering the service to students who meet certain criteria. He hopes that will impact absenteeism.