The Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center will soon be offering primary care patients an online medical evaluation service, via a web-based application that will allow a patient to conduct an electronic consultation with a physician.
Officials from Rush say that the organization will be among the first healthcare providers in the U.S. to offer primary care patients the convenience of an online medical evaluation service. Called Rush SmartExam, the web-based application will allow a patient to conduct an electronic consultation (or e-visit) with a physician, who will determine a diagnosis and treatment plan that may include prescriptions. Rush will begin offering SmartExam to some patients in April.
The visits are meant for low-acuity conditions, such as coughs, colds, allergies, ear pain, sore throats, and rashes, to name some.
Patients ages 18 and older who have an established primary care physician at Rush and have visited that doctor at Rush within the last year can use the service. They have to register for the service via MyChart, Rush’s online health records system, and then would be able to make the electronic visit by logging into rush.smartexam.com. Each patient will answer approximately 25 to 75 questions that gather information about the patient’s symptoms. The questionnaire typically takes patients 12 minutes on average to complete.
Once a questionnaire is completed, SmartExam sends it to participating Rush providers, who will receive a text message alerting them that a patient is waiting to receive care. The doctor then can log in from any device and review the information gathered from the patient, along with an automatically, computer-generated diagnosis based on a sophisticated algorithm. The diagnosis uses the information gathered from the patient questionnaire and provides physicians with a thorough, personalized, and evidence-based set of information to support the diagnosis and recommended treatment, according to Rush officials.
The doctor then decides on the best course of treatment, and then SmartExam emails the patient a link to the after visit summary. Any prescriptions that are issued as a result of the visit are sent to a pharmacy designated by the patient, and the patient then is charged for the visit. The entire e-visit is completed in less than an hour and costs $30, which is collected at the beginning of the session but is not charged until diagnosis and treatment is delivered. If a patient is too sick for an e-visit and is advised to come in for an office visit, the patient will be exited from the e-visit at no charge.
“Patients will be able to get a medical evaluation electronically from the comfort of their home for non-urgent conditions commonly treated by a primary care physician,” Dr. Anthony Perry, M.D., one of the e-visit practicing physicians and chief medical officer for Rush University Medical Group. “People have busy lives and we want to create convenient and high-quality options that work.”