A Publication of WTVP

Travelers today book plane tickets online, bank customers can check their accounts at any computer, and busy families can grocery-shop online. Now, even doctor visits are among the conveniences offered via the Internet.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, it’s not surprising to see the continuing merger between computers, the Internet and healthcare. In an effort to improve care and reduce costs, Methodist Medical Center is offering patients an opportunity to schedule appointments, refill medications, create a personal health record or even “visit” their physician, all from the computer, whether it’s at home, at work or elsewhere.

MyMethodist eHealth allows patients to connect with their Methodist Medical Group physician’s office at any time, anywhere. More secure than regular email, MyMethodist eHealth is a web-based communication service new to central Illinois that is already resulting in greater patient and physician satisfaction. There is no subscription or registration charge, and most services are free. Access to quality and cost-effective healthcare is the goal of the program.

MyMethodist eHealth streamlines the process of exchanging information with a doctor. Through the system, you can:

Patients can also take advantage of convenient WebVisits for non-urgent medical concerns. An online consultation guides the patient through an interactive interview and builds a message to the doctor based upon those answers. An office visit may not be necessary, and the fee for a MyMethodist WebVisit is similar to an insurance co-pay. However, if the physician feels a personal visit is necessary, there is no charge for the online consultation.

As anyone can attest, reaching physicians by telephone can sometimes be an inefficient and time-consuming process. Connecting online allows for messages to be left about non-urgent health concerns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also times when patients feel they are rushed through questions they have for their physicians because others may be waiting. Or perhaps questions they meant to ask the doctor suddenly elude them when they come face to face in the examining room. Communicating through MyMethodist eHealth allows you to ask questions in your own words, at your own pace and in the comfort of your own surroundings.

Physicians point out that one big advantage of the eHealth system over regular email is that messages between doctor and patient automatically become part of the patient’s Personal Health Record, providing increased communication and data.

Dr. David Trachtenbarg, a Methodist Medical Group physician, says that online communication can increase access to healthcare. “We believe if people can get the right care as early as possible, there will be savings,” he said, “because if they wait until something is acute, the level of care and costs are much greater.”

New communication technologies can never totally replace the crucial interpersonal contacts that are the basis of the patient-physician relationship. However, the use of MyMethodist eHealth can enhance those contacts. For more information about MyMethodist eHealth, go to iBi