September 10, 2020
Cheyenne Regional Medical Group (CRMG) recently piloted a new video telehealth system through its online patient portal MyChart. As of early August, more than two dozen CRMG physicians and advanced practice providers were using the new capability. All CRMG providers were expected to “go live” with the new capability by early fall.
“Understandably, the use of telehealth via phone and video within our health system has skyrocketed over the past few months due to concerns about keeping our patients, staff and providers safe from the spread of COVID-19,” said Kerry Slater, CRMG president. “Additionally, telehealth will allow us to continue to adapt care and services to patients who may have transportation or mobility limitations or during severe winter weather.”
From mid-March to mid-June, CRMG provided more than 5,500 patient appointments via telephone and close to 2,000 telehealth video visits with patients through a system not affiliated with MyChart.
“For providers to be able to log into MyChart, do a video visit and then make notes in the patient’s medical record is a more streamlined, seamless process since both Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and CRMG have been using MyChart for many years,” Slater said. “Based on our pilot project, we are also finding that the MyChart video capability is a more user-friendly option for our patients.”
MyChart video visits are available through the MyChart mobile app and through a desktop or laptop computer with the proper camera and microphone setup.
“For a video visit, the patient logs into their MyChart account, then clicks on the camera icon,” Slater said. “That takes them to their appointment, where they are asked to make any updates to their health history and preferred pharmacy. They are then placed in a virtual waiting room until the provider logs in. The patient then meets face-to-face with their physician or advanced practice provider from the safety, comfort and convenience of home.”
The pilot project started with five CRMG providers testing the functionality, ease and practicality of the system earlier this summer.
“So many of our patients struggle to get to their medical appointments because of lack of transportation, bad weather or medical conditions that prohibit them from driving,” said Dr. Tracie Caller, neurologist with the CRMG Medical Specialty Clinic and one of the physicians who worked on the pilot project. “This new platform is a wonderful tool, offering an easy and a convenient way to provide patients with medical care. Another benefit is that it allows family members to be present who might not have been able to make it to an in-person appointment.”
CRMG clinics that are now using the video visit capability include the Medical Specialty Clinic, Cheyenne Children’s Clinic, Cheyenne Cardiology Associates, CRMG Endocrinology and all CRMG internal medicine and family medicine locations.
“Connecting to a telehealth visit via MyChart is really easy, both for my patients and office staff,” said Shannon Cook, a CRMG family nurse practitioner who participated in the pilot project. “It’s made it possible for those who can’t, or shouldn’t, be out due to COVID-19 to visit with me face-to-face. It’s giving our patients more flexibility and convenience in how they can receive care.”
Patients must have a MyChart account to be able to use the video visits. A MyChart account can be established during an onsite appointment at any CRMG clinic or over the phone by calling (307) 633-7925.
The MyChart video visits are HIPAA compliant, meaning they meet federal patient privacy regulations, and none of the video visits will be recorded.
Currently patients now have several options for seeing a CRMG provider, including in-person visits, telephone visits, SmartExam acute-care virtual visits via a smartphone and now video visits through the MyChart patient portal.
“The need for virtual care alternatives is in high demand due to the pandemic, and the need will likely continue to grow as the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to spike in many places next fall and winter,” Slater said. “Our goal is to be ahead of the curve when it comes to safeguarding the health of our patients, and this new video visit capability is another way we can help our patients safely and securely access medical care.”