If you have a smartphone tablet or computer with a web camera and microphone, you can "visit" your health care provider from the comfort of your home.
By using virtual visits and even risk assessment questionnaires that can be completed at home in advance of appointments, doctors are able to lessen the time patients spend in an actual office,
Dr. Shelly Flais, an American Academy of Pediatrics national spokesperson and author of several AAP parenting books, who has offices in Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Naperville, North Aurora and West Chicago, said risk assessment questionnaires are useful for evaluating milestones in child development, postpartum depression and even asthma.
“Then when they come back for an exam, it’s a much quicker process,” Flais said.
Although video visits don't completely replace in-person examinations, they are useful in a variety of situations, Flais said.
Doctors can see a variety of rashes via video and “with the light on a smart phone, we can see in the throat pretty darn well,” Flais added.
Locally, both Edward-Elmhurst Health, Morris Hospital and Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox are offering video visits.
New and established Edward-Elmhurst patients of all ages may schedule video visit for a new health issue or as a follow-up visit for a range of issues, such as back pain, cough/cold symptoms, allergies, asthma, headache and pink eye, the release said.
Morris Hospital is also offering appointments through telemedicine for those who have acute or chronic conditions, need medicine management or require follow-up appointments, according to the Morris Hospital website at morrishospital.org.
To schedule a video visit at Edward-Elmhurst Health, set up a MyChart account with Edward-Elmhurst Health. Then log into My Chart through through EEHealth.org or the MyEEHealth app and click on "appointments."
Then send a message through MyChart and a doctor will reach out, or call the doctor's office. Video visit instructions will be provided when patients schedule. Edward-Elmhurst offers same-day appointments, the release said.
Edward-Elmhurst Health offered the following tips for video visits:
Find a quiet, private, well-lit space to avoid interruptions.
Fully charge the computer or device or plug it in.
Make sure the device’s video and sound are on and working.
Have a pen and paper ready with any questions for the doctor.
When the visit begins, put the camera at eye level.
For appointments with Edward-Elmhurst Health, complete the quick online e-Checkin process through MyChart or the MyEEHealth app.
At the scheduled time, log in to MyChart through the MyChart website or the MyEEHealth app.
Click on “begin video visit.” Wait for the doctor to join.
Explain the health issue, listen closely and take notes.
The Morris Hospital website provides instructions and links for accessing the Cisco WebEx Video Conference app that will virtually connect patients with the health care provider.
WebEx is a HIPAA verified program that has security features assuring information is always safe, the Morris Hospital website said.
For more information about Silver Cross telehealth services, visit silvercross.org/about/medical-group.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include information about Silver Cross Hospital's telehealth program.