Southern Illinois healthcare providers offer video visits as alternative to traditional office visits
Southern Illinois Healthcare announced last week that SIH Medical Group is now conducting video visits for outpatient visits.
Dr. Matt Winkleman, of SIH Primary Care in Harrisburg, explained that government restrictions on telemedicine were recently loosened, which opened different types of platforms for medical visits.
“For a lot of things, it’s great," he said. "They allow a patient to stay home and get the care they need."
Many Southern Illinoisans are already using technology to visit with their grandchildren or other family members miles away. Video medical visit work the same way using apps like WebEx, Google Duo or FaceTime.
Who is eligible for a video visit? At this time, all primary care providers can use video visits for established patients. Providers will decide which patients need a face-to-face appointment and which patients can be seen using a video visit. Providers are not required to see all patients via video, but they are encouraged to offer the option to help patients practice social distancing.
How does it work? Registration will contact the patient to transition the visit to a video encounter. The patient may choose to use WebEx, FaceTime or Google Duo. For WebEx, registration staff invites patient to the WebEx and confirms the patient received the link in their email.
On the morning of the appointment, registration will release that day’s video visits. At the time of the appointment, a nurse will contact the patient by phone to complete the rooming components (the things a nurse does before the doctor enters the exam room). When the rooming process is completed, the nurse instructs the patient to click on the WebEx link or expect a call from the provider to complete a FaceTime or Duo call.
“There are a lot of areas where this can be useful,” Winkleman said.
He added the video visits are good for patients managing chronic conditions, rashes or mental health follow-ups such as depression, anxiety or ADHD. The visits also limit the possibility of exposing at risk patients with chronic conditions to COVID-19.
The video visits have some limitations, too. Many Southern Illinoisans lack good internet service, and their only option is a face-to-face visit. Also, the connections may not be as private as a traditional office visit. Some patients need to be seen because of the nature of their symptoms or disease.