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While video medical visits have been used for a while now, the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of remote “virtual care” (sometimes referred to as “Telehealth”) by health care providers and patients across the country. Over the past few years, video health care technology has improved, and more and more patients are finding that virtual care is a good fit for their lifestyles.
With Virtual Primary Care, patients have a primary care physician (PCP) who sees them almost entirely via video visits. Using MyChart, Reliant’s online patient portal, patients schedule appointments, check-in for appointments, and visit with the PCP using an internet-enabled cell phone, computer, or tablet. Patients will be directed to a Reliant office only when an in-person visit is necessary, or if the PCP orders lab work or diagnostic tests, such as x-rays. Patients also will likely need to go to Reliant offices for visits with specialists.
Virtual Primary Care is not for everyone. People with complex medical issues or those who are uncomfortable with technology are likely not good candidates for virtual primary care. Before we can register a patient in the Virtual Primary Care program, we need to understand a patient’s health status and determine if they have access to and are comfortable with the necessary technology. Please also note that per Massachusetts regulations, you must be in the state of Massachusetts at the time you are receiving video care.
There are three major factors in determining if Virtual Primary Care is right for you:
1). You must be comfortable with the idea that most or all of your primary care will be provided “virtually” over video
2). Your healthcare status matters. People with complex medical needs are more likely to require in-person care and are likely not good candidates for virtual primary care
3). You must have access to and be comfortable with the necessary technology.
Who is eligible to participate in Virtual Primary Care?
Adults aged 18+ can participate in Virtual Primary Care. Eligibility is determined by an individual’s health status and their comfort with and access to the necessary technology.
What kind of technology is necessary to participate in Virtual Primary Care?
In order to participate in Virtual Primary Care, you must have access to a reliable internet connection and an internet-enabled device (i.e., cell phone, computer, or tablet) with a working camera, microphone, and speakers.
Visits are conducted using MyChart, Reliant’s online patient portal. You must have a MyChart account to have a Virtual PCP. You can access MyChart via an app on a cell phone, computer, or tablet. You may also access MyChart at mychart.reliantmedicalgroup.org.
Watch this video to learn about connecting to your virtual visit through MyChart.
Are video visits secure?
Yes. Our virtual visit technology is secure through MyChart and follows HIPAA privacy guidelines. Like an in-person visit, the data or information shared during your visit goes straight into your electronic medical record, which is fully protected.
What are the credentials of the Virtual PCPs?
The Virtual Primary Care team comprises Internal Medicine and Family Medicine physicians, as well as experienced Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs), such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Do Virtual PCPs do less than a traditional PCP?
Virtual Primary Care physicians and advanced practitioners are able to provide the same services as traditional, office-based PCPs, including making diagnoses, ordering necessary testing and specialty consultations, and prescribing medications.
Do Virtual PCPs ever see patients in the office?
Virtual PCPs typically have some scheduled time each week in a designated Reliant office.
Where will I go if I need a traditional in-office visit…and who will I see?
If you need care in the office, you likely will be seen at the Reliant location where your Virtual PCP has his/her office hours. Your PCP may also ask that your first visit with the Virtual Primary Care team be in the office. When you come into the office for a visit, you may see your PCP or a member of his/her care team, such as an advanced practitioner. You may also be referred to a ReadyMED location if your need is time-sensitive and your PCP is not available in the office.
How can a Virtual PCP perform a traditional physical? Don’t they need to check my vital signs?
Critical aspects of a traditional “physical” visit —like a review of current medical problems, medication lists, new symptoms, change in family history or health habits, discussions about important cancer screenings and blood tests—can be accomplished in a video visit. The actual physical exam is a small part of the value of these visits. Many times, patients have the equipment to take their own blood pressure, pulse, weight, and temperature prior to their visit. If you are able to do so, you can share your readings with the provider. If you can’t take your own vitals, we can always do this in-person at a scheduled visit in the office with a member of your PCP’s team, if needed.
What If I have a specific medical issue that I want to talk about during my physical?
If you have a medical problem that you feel needs to be addressed during your physical, please call the Virtual Primary Care department and someone on our nursing team will gather additional information to determine if a separate or in-person visit with the PCP is needed.
What times of the day can I be seen in the Virtual Primary Care program?
The Virtual Primary Care department is open during the same hours as Reliant’s primary care offices, Monday-Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm.
Can I receive video care from anywhere?
Per Massachusetts regulations, you must be in the state of Massachusetts at the time you are receiving video care. In addition, Reliant physicians can only send prescriptions to pharmacies in Massachusetts.
How can I get help if I have technical trouble before or during my visit?
Virtual Primary Care staff will help you navigate technical issues, whenever possible. We also provide Virtual Primary Care patients with tips for video visits and offer an instructional video.
Can a Reliant patient transfer to Virtual Primary Care?
Existing Reliant patients can transfer to the Virtual Primary Care team if there are available slots in the program, and if their health records indicate that they are good candidates. These patients must also take a brief technology survey to ensure they have access to and are comfortable with the necessary technology. Reliant patients with an office-based PCP who are interested in Virtual Primary Care can contact our Registration Department at (508) 425-5857 in inquire about a transfer.
I’d like to register with a Reliant PCP. Can I choose a PCP in the Virtual Primary Care program?
People seeking a new Reliant PCP who are interested in Virtual Primary Care can contact our New Patient Registration Department at (508) 425-5857. Individuals will be asked to take a health survey to determine their eligibility. They also must take a brief technology survey to ensure they have access to and are comfortable with the necessary technology. The Virtual Primary Care team has limited availability, so registration may not be possible at the time of your call. If there is no availability in Virtual Primary Care or if you do not qualify for Virtual Primary Care, we will be happy to help you find a traditional, office-based Reliant PCP, if available.