St. Louis doctors launch video visits -

St. Louis doctors launch video visits

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ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis healthcare group just launched a program that could change the way you think about a doctor visit, especially on the days you don't want to leave the house or can't leave work.

SSM Health's "Primary Care Video Visits" work a lot like Facetime, with patients and their physicians connecting over a video call on a cell phone or a computer with a camera.

"It really helps doctors connect with their patients in a more tech savvy way and sometimes easier way for a lot of people," said Dr. Jennifer Wessels, director of telemedicine at SSM Health.

Patients are already embracing the program that just launched this spring.

"One day at the office I had an eye infection that during the day kept getting worse and I really didn't have time to go to the doctor. I remembered telemedicine was available so I logged in, got an appointment, I think the appointment was 45 minutes later," said Nancy Terveer. "What was great about this is I could get it taken care of, I could get a prescription, and on my way home I was able to stop and pick up my prescription. I was very grateful because I had a lot of work to do that day so I didn’t have to leave the office and I was able to continue to work."

Terveer's doctor is one of five at SSM Health currently offering video visits to established patients through SSM's My Chart app.

They can talk about acute complaints like pink eye, colds and flu or some chronic conditions like diabetes follow up, depression follow-up, smoking cessation and more.

Doctors think it could be key during flu season. Not only will it save patients time, if they can video call in from home, then they will be around fewer people, and potentially spread fewer germs.

Doctors also see it as a way to connect with more patients.

"My practice is very rural so we have a lot of patients that come a long ways to see us," said Dr. Megan Warhol, who practices in Troy and is one of the five doctors currently using the telemedicine program. "Sometimes they drive up to an hour just to get to the clinic. A lot of times they don’t have transportation or their car breaks down or they have a lack of resources to get to the office so it’s great to be able to touch those patients in the rural communities."

SSM Health hopes to expand it to as many doctors as possible but it will be up to the doctor whether or not to participate.

"We have a lot of doctors really interested in this and a lot of patients who need to do this," said Dr. Wessels.

Each video visit costs $45 and insurance is not billed.

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