Cone Health E-Visits take pressure off ER and save money

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- "The most important thing about health care today is creating value for a consumer," said Dr. John Jenkins, Cone Health's chief clinical officer for connective care.

And when you're feeling lousy, we can all value snuggling up on the couch, but how about getting better in the process?

That's the goal for Cone Health's E-Visit program, to diagnose and treat people from the comfort of their own home. Right now they're seeing an all-time high in users since it was launched and rolled out two years ago.

Nurse practitioners like Christie Leath will get maybe 10 to 20 requests a day. It's connected to the Cone Health system, so they have access to your medical records and history.

You just fill out an online survey and can even send in pictures of symptoms and chat with a physician.

This takes pressure off the emergency department, leaving more time for patients with critical conditions.

Jenkins says even if you're starting to show symptoms of the flu, an E-Visit could be right for you.

"The flu is a very appropriate condition to seek a video visit or an E-Visit with because we would rather you not be in our lobby and infecting everybody else," Jenkins said.

The option is a flat rate of $30, which Connected Care Director Charisse Hutcherson says will help drive down the cost of care, as the technology improves.

"If we can come up with a way to take care of patients and not have to have that brick and mortar building, it makes it more cost effective for everybody," Hutcherson said.

Cone Health's goal is to hit about 300 E-Visits per month, but with activity ramping up in December and January, they're now looking at numbers closer to 400.