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Health: Examining the new era of house calls

Dr. Christopher Hester

In the age of COVID-19, people have been changing the way they stay in touch with family and friends, using virtual methods to stay connected. Healthcare systems are doing the same by offering telehealth services for patients and providers to connect virtually. Telehealth is an alternative to providing necessary care to patients when in-person visits are not necessary or possible.

Greatly improving access and convenience of care, telehealth allows real-time secure communication between patients and providers, without patients having to leave their home or office. More and more people are choosing to use telehealth, because it offers an easy way for them to access the excellent care that they’ve come to expect from Mount Nittany Health, in the location that’s most convenient for them.

How telehealth works

Telehealth is the use of technologies to deliver healthcare services and information remotely. Telehealth includes telehealth visits, which are two-way video visits conducted remotely where patients and providers can see and hear one another during the visit through the use of a computer or mobile device. Most smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers with a camera, audio capabilities, and high-speed internet connection are able to be used to complete a telehealth visit. During telehealth visits, providers are able to perform all the same aspects of in-person visits, except obtaining vitals and performing an actual physical exam. Reviewing patient history, allergies and medications, lab and imaging results, and responses to previously recommended therapy can all be done via telehealth.

Online patient portals are another telehealth service that improves access to health information. A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients access to personal health information, such as recent visit summaries, lab results, medications and immunizations, from anywhere using a computer or mobile device. In addition, through the portal, patients can communicate with their provider or staff via electronic messaging, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, including telehealth visits, and more.

Benefits of telehealth

Whether it’s telehealth visits or patient portals, there are many benefits to using telehealth services. Telehealth allows patients to receive ongoing care from their provider, making services more accessible by giving people the option to visit with their provider from where it is most convenient for them. 

Patient portals help give people control over managing their health and care. With a patient portal, people can easily access personal health information anytime and anywhere. Portals can improve communication between patients, providers, and staff, as well as help support care between visits, allowing patients to ask questions via secure messaging.

Telehealth at Mount Nittany Health

Mount Nittany Health is committed to improving access and convenience to healthcare services by offering telehealth services.

The My Mount Nittany Health patient portal is an online tool that makes managing patients’ health easier and more convenient. Through the portal, patients can request appointments, view upcoming appointments, conduct a telehealth visit, securely message their provider or staff, see their visit history, review lab or test results, access discharge summaries, and update their personal information.

Mount Nittany Health offers telehealth visits for Mount Nittany Physician Group patients, allowing patients to visit with their trusted providers remotely. At the time of a patient’s scheduled telehealth appointment, patients will log in to the portal or app, then select the appointment. Patients may have to review demographic information, agree to consent forms, and allow permission to use the camera and microphone. Patients will then see and hear their provider via video. During the visit, the provider will ask questions and update the care plan. After the visit is complete, there may be follow-up steps, such as providers may write orders for labs or imaging, providers may prescribe or refill medications, and patients may need to schedule another telehealth visit or an in-person visit for a more involved assessment.

In addition, Mount Nittany Health offers telehealth visits for emergency care, providing on-demand virtual visits with Mount Nittany Medical Center emergency department providers, available 24/7 with no appointment needed. Expert care from the emergency department is available for new and existing patients of all ages for common acute care issues such as headaches, urinary tract infections, seasonal allergies, pink eye, upset stomach, rash/skin issues, and other urgent care needs. Please note, virtual visits are not recommended for life-threatening or disabling conditions. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 or seek care at your nearest emergency medicine facility.

To participate in telehealth visits, patients will need to ensure they have a My Mount Nittany Health patient portal account. To create an account, patients can sign up at mymountnittanyhealth.com/portal/signup, contact their provider’s office, or contact the My Mount Nittany Health patient portal support team at (814) 231-7103.

For additional information about the My Mount Nittany Health patient portal, visit MyMountNittanyHealth.com. To learn more about telehealth at Mount Nittany Physician Group, visit mountnittany.org/telehealth. For information about telehealth emergency care, visit mountnittany.org/virtualER.

 

Christopher Hester, MD, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Internal Medicine and clinical chief officer, primary care services, for Mount Nittany Physician Group.