By Anna Skinner
IU Health has released a new way of seeing a physician.
IU Health Video Visits was created, and patients can now see a physician or practitioner without ever leaving their home.
“This is an opportunity for a patient to connect with a physician on many types of devices,” said Ian McDaniel, executive director of tele-health and retail services at IU Health. “Physicians can interact and interface with that patient via video and voice.”
Video Visits are used for low-intensity problems, such as coughs, colds, flus, skin conditions and eye conditions. A pilot program was launched internally and used for several months with IU Health employees and dependents.
McDaniel said that many patients have interacted with a physician via phone, and this is step up for physicians to diagnose.
“Physicians have been practicing with less information across the course of history, and now we are given the opportunity to interact with more information than we had on the telephone,” McDaniel said. If a physician believes a patient requires lab testing, they will be referred to IU Health.
Other area hospitals are exploring similar ways of interacting with patients.
“We believe that tele-medicine as a general field is the future of healthcare delivery,” said Dr. Richard Fogel, chief executive officer for St.Vincent. “It allows another access point into the healthcare system, and it is particularly useful for people who live in rural areas. It doesn’t replace a face-to-face meeting, but it is in addition to it.”
Dr. John Paris, chief medical officer at Riverview Health, said Riverview is looking forward to instilling something similar to IU Health’s Video Visit.
“We are doing our due diligence to see what vendor and platform should be used,” Paris said. “We will certainly start slowly as we learn the benefits and the risks of the new technology.”
The Indiana General Assembly recently passed a law that went into effect July 1 that allows physicians to prescribe medications over real-time video visits.
McDaniel said currently, insurance is not accepted over the Video Visits, and each visit costs $49 and lasts approximately 20 minutes. McDaniel said the hospital didn’t want to wait to get insurance contracts signed for the Video Visits, as that would delay the technology’s access to the public. Billing insurances in the future is a possibility.
The IU Health Video Visits application is free and available through Apple and Android app stores. To use the program on a computer with video features, visit iuhealthvideovisit.org.