Memorial Health System launches app

MARIETTA — What do you do if you don’t have insurance, but become ill in the middle of the night? What if your child is sick but you don’t have transportation to an urgent care facility?

The Memorial Health System has a new app called MemorialCareNow, which is designed to help people have access to a health care provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a video chat on a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Dr. Tyler Hill, medical director of the emergency and urgent care services at Memorial, visited the Memorial Health Radio podcast and spoke about the app, which was released in August.

“It provides patients and providers better access to each other in a much more cost efficient manner. As of right now, many hospital systems are starting to explore how far can you take telemedicine in a safe manner,” he said. “Here in the Memorial Health System, we’ve kind of decided to roll that out with our urgent care service line.”

The app is free from Google Play or the Apple App Store, but each visit will cost $49.99.

Sarah Holt, director of marketing for Memorial, said once you download the free app, you only need to register if you need service.

“The app is a very simple and very easy way to give the provider the information they need,” she said.

Hill said the provider who is on call for the service needed will receive a text message. The doctor logs into the system via the text message and tells the patient that they are ready to see them.

“The wait time is five to 10 minutes,” Holt said.

The patient will jump into a virtual chat room and the two are connected via video chat.

Hill noted that the physician can evaluate the patient from there and make a diagnosis or send them to urgent care. They can also advise the patient to follow up with their primary care doctor if they are not able to diagnose the illness. The on-call physician can electronically prescribe medications with the patient’s pharmacy of choice.

Since the app doesn’t take insurance information, those using it have to add credit card information before being seen, but will only be billed after being discharged by the physician, Holt said. After being are discharged, patients will receive paperwork just as if they had seen the doctor in person.

While not all ailments can be treated with a visit through the app, many common conditions or illnesses can be treated. The providers treat illnesses such as allergies, cough, fever, sinusitis, flu, sore throat, strep, acid reflux, digestive issues, dizziness, eye irritation, cellulitis, poison ivy, rash, skin injury, asthma, bronchitis, respiratory infection, arthritis, headaches, yeast infection and migraines.

Holt said people should understand their relationship with their primary care doctor is important and this telemedicine option doesn’t take the doctor’s place.

“It’s for when those urgent situations come up, it’s 9 p.m. and your child has what you think is a sinus infection. Your urgent care is closed and it doesn’t warrant an ER visit,” she said

Holt said the app is also good for people who have to travel to visit their doctor.

“They may live 20 to 25 minutes from town and now they don’t have to take that drive,” she said. “They could be a college student at WVU in Morgantown or Ohio State, they don’t have to drive home from college, they can jump on the app and the doctor will have their health records.”

Hill said telemedicine is a way to change health care, not only as a community, but at the state and national level.

“Many of these types of complaints don’t necessarily need to come to the emergency department or the urgent care, but we can take care of it at the lowest means of health care costs via the telemedicine,” he said. “That is ultimately how you reduce health care costs and the burden overall and remove those from the most expensive sites.”

He said that the app is for urgent care situations, not for life threatening situations.

“There is a hard stop for stroke or chest pains that will not allow you to complete registration,” Hill said. “It will tell you to call 9-1-1 or go to the closest emergency department.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.