The migraines that grip Lyssette Flinchbaugh can be overpowering, but traveling from her Berlin home to West Hartford for follow-up appointments with her specialist seemed like a lot of driving for what amounts to a brief visit.
Especially last fall after ankle surgery left her unable to drive.
That’s when Flinchbaugh became one of the first patients to have an electronic visit through Hartford HealthCare’s new Telehealth program. Using her ipad, she quickly connected with Andrea Murphy, APRN, of the Headache Center, and talk by video about her migraines and how her medication is working.
“Most of my appointments are just check-ins so this makes it very easy and convenient,” the 45-year-old mother said. “It went so well that I did it again for my last visit. It makes scheduling so much easier. I can have my appointment from almost anywhere.”
Video visits, a form of telehealth – which launched as a pilot at the Headache Center in September of 2018 – can be conducted on a home computer, mobile phone or tablet using MyChart Plus, Hartford HealthCare’s electronic medical record platform. The process – which Murphy admitted has experienced “a few bumps,” mostly based on the type and age of the device used by the patient – boosts efficiency for patients and providers.
“These visits tend to be more targeted, with patients filling out a questionnaire beforehand so we can hone in on the topic of our visit right away. This keeps me on time or helps me catch up if I’ve run behind with another patient,” she explained.
Telehealth also promises to:
- Improve the overall patient and provider experience.
- Keep patients out of the emergency department.
- Lower costs.
- Expand care across state lines.
- Increase access to specialists.
- Personalize patient care.
- Decrease same-day cancellations due to illness or weather that makes it difficult for patients to get into the doctor’s office.
Using video visits, patients can interact with their provider, ask questions and chat real-time like they would in a traditional appointment. Providers have the medical record open and can order prescriptions, send referrals for testing and schedule new appointments.
“These are quick visits they would typically need to travel into the office for. It’s been nice to hear positive patient feedback on the Telehealth visits,” said Murphy, who has seen about 20 telehealth patients with a goal of scheduling two such visits a day.
In total, Telehealth has logged 56 visits in the last 90 days, with 94 more scheduled in the upcoming 90 days. Approximately 83 percent of participants would highly recommend the service to a friend or colleague. In addition, all of the participating headache specialists report being highly satisfied with video visits.
In 2019, Hartford HealthCare’s Telehealth Program will expand to offer video visits in more service areas as the system works to ensure that people can receive quality healthcare where and when they need it.