With today’s widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and computers, virtual medical visits are no longer limited to the world of the imagination.
Sentara Medical Group is now conducting telehealth visits in Virginia through its Virtual Care Program.
“There are three ways to make an appointment,” Tammy Maloney, a nurse practitioner, said Thursday. “Through your provider’s office, through CareConnect, or through our App on MyChart.”
Once the appointment is scheduled, Maloney then connects patients virtually and holds the consultation.
As a nurse practitioner, Maloney said she is able to prescribe medication, order tests and enter notes into a patient’s electronic medical record.
The beauty of the virtual visit? No wait times, no lines, no extraneous emergency room fees, just a patient’s regular co-pay, Maloney said.
Maloney described it as a consult without the cold touch of a stethoscope to a patient’s chest, but with the comfort of a medical professional’s guidance.
SMG patient, Sheree Mobley of Virginia Beach, shared her recent experience as a virtual care patient.
“It was my first time,” Mobley said. “I wasn’t feeling well and my doctor wasn’t in on Monday, so they recommended doing a virtual visit. I was feeling really bad and thinking how am I going to get to the doctor’s office, and then how am I going to drive back home?”
At first Mobley was hesitant.
“It’s the fear of the unknown,” Mobley said. “Growing up you go to the doctor’s office, they have the stethoscope, and they’re looking in your ear. (The virtual visit) was something else, but the actual experience was amazing. The fact that you’re able to look at someone, from your living room, it’s really nice. Tammy was amazing, she picked up on things that you don’t think people can pick up on over the phone and virtually. It was really good.”
The ideal patient for a virtual visit?
“Uncomplicated situations: a rash, an insect bite, cough, cold, flu symptoms, sore throat, urinary tract infections, non-aggravated conditions,” Maloney said. “We have a lot of professionals, school teachers and employees that make appointments for their lunch breaks, log-on, complete their visit in five minutes, and when they leave work, their prescription is ready to pick-up on the way home.”
Tyler Okoren, director of Virtual Care for Sentara said, “the value of having a virtual visit with (Sentara) is (Tammy) can see the patient’s medical record: the patient’s past and present history, and she can talk to a patient’s primary care provider and collaborate with specialists, as needed. She can really give a convenient holistic care approach, which is a big advantage.”
Sentara is currently conducting virtual visits for adults during normal business hours: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the hope of extending those hours in the future to include weekends.