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Entering the telemedicine frontier

21 Jan 2018

By: Bahaa Wanly, Chief Operating Officer

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Salem Health will launch a “virtual clinic” this spring, with video and e-visits through My Chart. We are excited to be part of this new frontier in providing the right care, at the right time and the right place for our patients!WanleyB-062215

Telemedicine plans began as part of our Population Health A3 last fall under Model of Care, specifically to increase convenience for patients while reducing unnecessary use of our busy ER.

We’ll begin a test of change this summer, involving the following two care opportunities for employees and dependents on our own insurance plans. The group is made up of patients who have existing MyChart accounts.

  1. Video visits through MyChart: Patients will “video chat” with a Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics provider, probably through a hand-held device such as a cell phone. Patients will opt-in and agree to participate, then proceed to interact virtually with the provider. Video visits will cost only $39 – so not only are these visits less expensive than an ER visit, but convenient. We'll be looking to expand to the public after our test of change.
  2. E-visits through MyChart: Patients can digitally respond to prompts about their symptoms to a Salem Health provider, and answers will be delivered within 24 hours. This is even cheaper than a video visit.

We’re piloting our virtual clinic options with Salem Health employees and dependents that have an active MyChart account before a thoughtful rollout to other groups and eventually the public. We’ll gather input to make improvements before we launch to the public. Learning from our experience will help other providers avoid pitfalls, too. We want everyone to benefit from our experience!

Improving efficiency while increasing care will also free up the ED for real emergencies, and allow for higher acuity problems to be seen in urgent care and primary care clinic, an especially needed tactic since approximately 30 percent of visits can be handled virtually.

I’m excited about what this means for the mid-Willamette Valley – especially in the constantly changing health care environment. We’re all connected in delivering care to a growing community that’s straining our current resources.

Lastly, I want to thank you. As providers, you’ve been involved from the start, through the Quality Operations Committee and the “catch ball” function in creating our Population Health A3. Thank you for helping us shape the future — and for joining the telemedicine movement.