Helping Patients Feel Better, Faster with e-Visits

UW Health offers e-Visits for patients with MyChart accountsMadison, Wisconsin - Mike Kriefski was getting on an airplane the next morning to go shoot a television commercial and he didn't have time to deal with the nasal infection he could feel coming on.


The founder and executive creative director for Shine United, a Madison-based advertising, media planning and public relations company, has been plagued by such infections for years. He knows their symptoms and he knows how to treat them – with antibiotics prescribed by his primary care provider.


"It normally means I have to take a few hours off work and go to the doctor for the antibiotics," he says. "But I was super busy and would be gone for a week, and wouldn't be able to get to a doctor or pharmacy. We were going to be working 10- to 12-hour days."


Luckily for Mike, he had recently finished filming a commercial with UW Health Internal Medicine physician Peter Newcomer, MD. During the shoot Dr. Newcomer had mentioned a new service available to all UW Health patients with MyChart accounts who had previously seen their primary care provider.


e-Visits are "virtual" clinic appointments intended for patients suffering from less serious symptoms, including coughs, headaches, low back pain, or, as in Mike's case, sinus problems. Rather than setting up an in-person appointment and driving to their clinic, patients need only log into their MyChart accounts and select the e-Visits icon.


At the start of the e-Visit, patients are asked to confirm some of their own health care details, including allergies and a list of their current prescriptions. After specifying the reason for the e-Visit, patients answer a few questions about their condition. For Mike, the questions included inquiries about fevers, headaches and nasal congestion, as well as whether his symptoms seem to be improving or getting worse.


"It was very intuitive. There was no confusion, no, 'What should I type next?'" Mike says. "I felt like they were the exact questions a nurse would be asking."


That's because the answers Mike gave are reviewed by UW Health physicians and providers, who then recommend a treatment plan. e-Visits are designed to take no more than 10 or 15 minutes, and responses are guaranteed within two hours.


For Mike, it didn't even take that long.


"Less than an hour later I got an email that said, 'Your prescription is ready,'" Mike says, enough time to get home, get packed and get on his plane the next morning.


e-Visits cost $30, though some Unity Health Insurance plans cover all or part of the fee. If a patient's e-Visit responses spark a concern, the patient will be asked to immediately set up a clinic appointment for more detailed evaluation.


Mike's nasal issue didn't warrant further attention, and his satisfaction with the e-Visit process stems from more than the quick turnaround and the time he saved.


"It gave me peace-of-mind, knowing that a doctor would be looking at my responses and they would be recorded in MyChart," he says. "They know me, and that's very comforting."


Mike subsequently recommended e-Visits to his wife, who reported similar success.


"It's a fantastic service," he says. "Ultimately I feel like, in doing this, UW Health cares about making patients feel better, faster."

Date Published: 03/17/2014

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