Do you get frustrated playing “phone tag” when you’re trying to reach your doctor’s office to ask a simple health question or refill a prescription for yourself or a family member? RelayHealth is an online communication tool that enables patients and their physicians to communicate about non-urgent healthcare matters anytime, anywhere. The Internet technology can save time and worry, especially for busy parents who want to avoid unnecessary office visits or need to know their children’s medical test results quickly.
All RelayHealth services currently available are provided at no cost to patients. Independent physicians can participate in the program. If you or your doctor has questions about RelayHealth, please call (309) 671-8358.
Security and Confidentiality
RelayHealth requires only a connection to the Internet and a web browser. Unlike regular email messages—which rely on multiple file servers distributed across the Internet—RelayHealth uses a single, centrally-managed, secure database which ensures that messages cannot be intercepted, deleted, copied or altered in any way. With highly secure, built-in encryption technology, only you, your doctor and your doctor’s authorized staff can read your RelayHealth messages.
What You Can Do With RelayHealth
This healthcare communication service can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week (from any computer with an Internet connection) to:
• Consult with your doctor—Ask questions and request advice about non-urgent health concerns at
your convenience, avoiding telephone hassles and unnecessary office visits for minor problems.
• Renew prescriptions—You can easily renew medication prescriptions, request prescriptions be sent to
your preferred pharmacy and specify pick-up or mail-order delivery (if available).
• Schedule appointments—Request appointments even when the office is closed, specifying your
preferences for days and times. Cancel and reschedule appointments as needed and receive online
• Receive lab, x-ray and other test results—Avoid “phone tag” and get results more quickly, with an
explanation from your doctor attached.
• Request referrals—Submit requests even when your primary care provider’s office is closed.
• Access medically-reviewed information—Learn more about a full range of healthcare topics and
access links to doctor-recommended information and websites.
• Maintain a Personal Health Record—Store and update all healthcare information in one secure place,
including medical history, immunization records and test results for yourself, your spouse, children or
aging parents. You decide who has access to your health record, ensuring privacy and that everyone
involved in your healthcare has up-to-date health information to avoid medical errors or
Using Time Efficiently
Amy Christison, M.D., a Peoria pediatrician, says, “RelayHealth facilitates communication without the barriers of time, increasing patients’ access to their physicians, as well as increasing access to our patients. We can communicate directly both day and night, seven days a week, about their medical condition. For me and, especially, very ill patients with acute problems who really need to get a hold of me, it really helps. Everybody has time crunches, and this technology helps both patients and physicians use time efficiently.”
Terra Boeker, a teacher whose two daughters—Caroline, 8, and Zoe, 20 months—are patients of Dr. Christison, recently signed up for RelayHealth services. Boeker says, “This is a better way to use everybody’s time efficiently, including the nurses who have to triage phone calls and prioritize them. Caroline has a congenital heart defect, so I know what it’s like to have a child with urgent medical needs. RelayHealth allows me to send questions about non-urgent concerns directly to Dr. Christison, without taking up the nurses’ time as they screen calls for more serious situations.”
Boeker appreciates the convenience of the technology, too. “I don’t have to sit at home worrying, ‘When is the doctor going to call me back? I can’t leave the house or run the vacuum, because she might call.’ Now I can go about my day knowing that I can check for her response by computer at my convenience.
“Just last summer, I was waiting for test results,” Boeker continues. “It wasn’t an urgent need, but I kept wondering, ‘Are the test results back yet?’ Having RelayHealth to communicate with our doctor will reduce anxiety and eliminate phone tag. And I’ll be able to cut back on trips to the doctor’s office for non-urgent problems.”
More Time-Saving Technology
Future plans call for the addition of the webVisit, which will carry a cost similar to an insurance co-pay. The webVisit is an online medical interview that gathers key data about a patient’s symptoms and relays it quickly and concisely to the physician. At that point, the physician can order a prescription, request additional information or ask the patient to come in. If the patient must see the doctor, there is no charge for the webVisit.
“I’m really looking forward to webVisits,” Dr. Christison says. “I spend about 30 percent of my time as a primary care pediatrician addressing psychiatric and behavioral issues. We have to fine-tune medications, fine-tune behavioral management, monitor how ‘Johnny’ is responding to behavior therapy ‘x.’ So to be able to use that time to email back and forth with a Web visit is convenient to everyone, rather than having to schedule a special office visit.
“The patient’s parent and I can communicate about adjusting medications and other issues without a great time expenditure. The time that a parent needs to gather up their child, take time off from work, make an appointment, check in (at the registration desk), etc., for something that I may not have to see ‘Johnny’ for face-to-face, is not an efficient use of time. To reduce that time by probably 70 percent (through webVisits) will really help everyone.” TPW