Mercy E-Visits a Blessing for Patients on the Go

January 2, 2015

Give web developer Ash Warren a call and you’ll likely need to leave a message.

“I run my own small business from home and don’t have a lot of downtime to chat,” he said. “Plus I have three daughters, between 7 and 12 years old, so there’s just not much room for anything else.”

But there is something else: a sinus problem. “I get a couple infections a year, and so does everyone else in my house,” Warren said. When the tech guru learned he could upgrade his trips to the doctor with e-visits, you could say everything ‘clicked.’

“I created a MyMercy account the instant I heard about the site and pretty soon I was interacting with my Mercy doctor from my home office,” he said. “It was right up my alley.”

Warren and nearly 650,000 Mercy patients across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma connect with MyMercy. The online service allows them to track health history, schedule appointments, contact a doctor and renew prescriptions; all it takes is a computer, tablet or mobile device to access an account – whether homebound or far from home.

“I recently made a work trip to New York and sure enough, the night before I left I was feeling run down,” Warren recalled. “I started up an e-visit, punched in my symptoms and got a response back from Dr. Jason Hand within the hour – well ahead of my flight.”

Dr. Hand even offered tips for when Warren reached higher altitudes. “That way, when he descended, he didn’t have a lot of pain,” Dr. Hand said. “Whenever someone is going up in a plane, we want to take care of the bacteria, of course, and reduce the pressure.”

That specific advice helped Warren get right to business when his plane touched down in the Big Apple. “My antibiotics were ready for me as soon as I reached the pharmacy in Times Square,” Warren continued. “It was very helpful and even impressed colleagues of mine on the East Coast.”

All primary care physicians at Mercy now offer e-visits; patients must first have an established doctor and a MyMercy account to get started. “It begins with a series of in-depth questions,” Dr. Hand explained. “The special algorithm allows for us to get more detailed information, saving everyone time across the board.”

Patients can expect a same-day response from their doctor as long as an e-visit is submitted before 4 p.m. on a regular business day. “Our goal is to respond within four hours,” Dr. Hand said. “We’d like to improve upon that and make these even quicker, but at the same time we’re working to improve walk-in access, too. We want to be patients’ one-stop shop.” 

From a web developer’s viewpoint, Warren says it’s been exciting watching Mercy adapt to patients’ needs. “When my wife and I were at the auto shop a few years back she pointed to the diagnostics that showed history and oil changes and whatnot, and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to see these kinds of graphs and charts about our health?’ Well, that’s truly becoming a reality.” 

E-visits through MyMercy are intended for non-urgent medical conditions like coughing, heartburn, red eye, back pain, sinus problems and diarrhea, as well as chronic conditions. “We won’t prescribe narcotics or controlled substances; those types of patients must be evaluated in person,” Dr. Hand added. “And if a complaint isn’t appropriate, we’ll turn it into a telephone call or an actual visit.”

An e-visit costs about the same price as a typical co-pay and isn’t intended to replace the patient-physician relationship, but rather complement it. “This is an extension of our access to care and allows patients not to be inconvenienced by the classic brick-and-mortar setup that forces people to miss out on other important things,” Dr. Hand said.

For Warren, that means more time to watch his children – and business grow. “I’ll be there for those important moments,” he said.

If you have a Mercy doctor and would like to sign up for a MyMercy account, visit mymercy.net.