What’s telling about telehealth? UMMC 2 You gives answers
Published on Sunday, January 1, 2023
By: Ruth Cummins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands of Mississippians have received minor medical and urgent care by seeing a University of Mississippi Medical Center provider during a UMMC 2 You telehealth visit.
But what some patients might not know is that their appointment with a family nurse practitioner at UMMC’s Center for Telehealth can offer so much more than a diagnosis. The care can also be forward-thinking, be that giving patients good information to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or sensing issues that need attention or testing beyond the visit at hand.
“They can get education. They can get an assurance that everything is fine, or guidance on how to navigate the health care system,” said Dr. Tearsanee Carlisle Davis. “Our providers ask questions and explain what a patient’s options are.”
UMMC 2 You is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for patients ages 3 and above, with same day-visits available. Ailments treated include sinus and upper respiratory issues, sore throat, urinary tract infections, rashes, allergies, bites, asthma, diarrhea, cold and flu, constipation, ear infections, fever, gout, cellulitis, joint pains and other common health concerns.
Visits can easily be made on a smartphone, tablet or computer after a patient signs up for a UMMC MyChart account and makes an appointment. MyChart is a website and app that lets you securely view and manage your health information anytime, anywhere. Patients can message their care team, request prescription refills, view their test results and read after-visit summaries following an appointment.
Telehealth providers emphasize that if someone is experiencing a health emergency, “you need to treat it as such,” Davis said. A trip to the emergency room is warranted, for example, if someone is experiencing chest pain, stroke symptoms, significant bleeding or seizures, she said.
During flu season, a telehealth visit can be a welcome alternative to an in-person exam when the patient has traditional symptoms of the virus that don’t always require a test to confirm.
UMMC 2 You has been a source for management of COVID-19 symptoms that include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache or new loss of taste or smell.
“Not all people coming to a clinic or an emergency room get a flu test. If they have symptoms, they are treated for it,” said Center for Telehealth nurse practitioner Kristi Goodson. “We encourage people with flu-like symptoms to do a telehealth visit and see what their options are. Some will want to begin antiviral therapy.
“If you have a child or grandchild who is being treated for the flu and you start having flu symptoms, you also might want to get a prescription to start antiviral therapy. That’s a way that UMMC 2 You can be utilized.”
A telehealth nurse practitioner can diagnose urgent care maladies, write common prescriptions and give care instruction. The telehealth nurse practitioner will refer a patient to their primary care provider if their assessment is that an in-person visit is advisable. That’s a decision made during the course of a visit because it’s not necessarily a black-and-white call, Davis said.
Even if an in-person visit or lab work is recommended, the telehealth provider can still give treatment and medical advice.
“We’ve had cases where a child has fever. We might not be sure why, but we can advise the parent to alternate Tylenol and Advil if appropriate, and assist with them getting appropriate in-person care,” Davis said.
“We ask questions that will give us information,” she said. “We had a case where a patient had a toothache, and we were able to give him antibiotics before he was able to see a dentist. The dentist says he was glad that the patient was already on antibiotics so that he could get his tooth pulled.”
UMMC 2 You can be a boon for Mississippians who live in rural areas, have challenges accessing health care, but need to see a provider for urgent, non-emergency care. “Some of them must make a decision on whether they’re going to seek health care by going somewhere,” Davis said. “For many, it’s a choice between care that is available, and no care at all.
“If we can see that person, they might ultimately need to see a provider,” Davis said. “But, they also can find out that they can receive treatment then from the telehealth nurse practitioner, and that it’s not necessary for them to have an in-person visit.”’
The Center for Telehealth also has agreements with the Mississippi Department of Education to provide urgent care services to students in a number of school districts across the state. It’s not unusual for the telehealth provider to flag possible concerning conditions during those exams, Davis said.
“I saw one child with a sore throat that I felt potentially had something very serious going on,” Goodson said. “I advised the parent to take the child to the pediatrician, and the child ended up being transferred to our children’s hospital for inpatient care.”
And, UMMC 2 You offers mental health care by appointment during regular business hours. A licensed professional counselor conducts an evaluation and provides resources for patients experiencing depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, grief and loss, LGBTQ support and more.
Seeing a provider through a video visit offers convenience and management of symptoms, be it an urgent care illness or everyday issues arising from chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, Goodson said.
“Unless you are experiencing an emergency, one of our providers can assess you and determine what they can do to help you feel better,” she said. “That’s giving personal and empathetic care, but also peace of mind.”
UMMC2you is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, weekends and holidays. Cost of all visits depend on the patient’s insurance and type of visit, and patients will get an estimate before their visit begins. For after-hours care, weekends, and holidays, there is an additional $15 charge. Insurance isn’t required for an appointment.
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