New Ulm Medical Center
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MyChart makes virtual visits and more a reality
Imagine making a next-day appointment with your physician at 3 a.m., just minutes after your child develops a high fever. Or avoiding a long drive to the clinic — and a morning off work — when all you need is help with a sinus problem.
There's no need to dream about these possibilities. They're available now at the New Ulm Medical Center through a service called MyChart. After a quick sign-up process, participants can enter a new era of personalized medical care.
"Patients really appreciate having another way to communicate with their doctor without having to wait on the phone," said Herm Louters, MD, a family medicine physician at NUMC. "MyChart is convenient and easy to use, and now with the introduction of e-visits, it allows many patients to get quality care for minor issues without having to come into the office."
Anyone with access to the Internet can log on to MyChart from any location in the world, 24 hours a day. The online health tool offers patients quick and secure access to review their medical records, including vital signs. They can schedule appointments, get lab results and print lists of their current medications to carry with them in case of an emergency.
MyChart may have special appeal to parents because it compiles all of their children's health information in one spot, including immunization records that can be printed out when needed. It also enables a parent to make a next-day appointment if a child develops a medical condition overnight.
A patient who has a non-urgent question, perhaps about a mild symptom that might be a side effect of a medication, can get an answer through MyChart's medical messaging system at no extra charge. The system offers services similar to those provided by the nurses' message center in the New Ulm Medical Center clinic.
People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, also can use MyChart to send messages to their physicians with updates about such key health measurements as blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
"If a patient sends me their levels by MyChart, it allows a more immediate response versus if they sent it by mail," Louters said. "That oftentimes will lead to better health care."
The program takes convenience a step further with e-Visits. Though not available for every type of medical complaint, people who have one of several specific symptoms — diarrhea, heartburn, pink eye, sinus problems or vaginal discharge or irritation — can leave their doctor a message about their symptoms. MyChart promises a prompt response, within one business day.
E-Visits are not free, but the hospital files a claim for the $35 fee with the patient's insurance provider. This service is available during business hours Monday through Friday.
Source: Health Edition, spring 2011
Reviewed by: Herm Louters, MD
First Published: 05/15/2011
Last Reviewed: 05/15/2011