Saint Luke’s Health System launches virtual doctor visits

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Luke’s Health System has launched virtual doctor visits for new or existing patients. You can use your smartphone or go online to have non-emergency medical issues addressed.

At the Roasterie Cafe, Jeremy Krashin of Saint Luke’s is seeing if two women will roast or toast the new Saint Luke’s 24/7 app. From anywhere you can get a connection, you list your symptoms and see if they’re appropriate for a virtual doctor visit. A heart attack isn’t.

“It’ll advise you to call 911,” Krashin explained.

But with common conditions like fever, colds or diarrhea, you can make an appointment. Saint Luke’s says within about 15 minutes, users will be connected to the provider. You can choose telephone or real-time video. The hospital system is starting small with a dozen doctors and nurse practitioners offering virtual visits.

“But we intend to build our internal practices, make this part of our physician practices,” said Dr. Gary Ripple, Medical Director of eHealth and Outreach.

He said the virtual visits could bring new patients into the health system.

“It’s harder and harder to go see your private practitioner. This access is going to give patients the ability to get the care that they need when they need it,” Dr. Ripple said.

If Saint Luke’s doctors aren’t available, you’ll have the option of seeing other doctors, some in our area, who are part of the MD Live telehealth platform.

A visit costs $49 although some insurers and employers may lower the cost for workers.

After having the app explained to her, Sherri Rigby doubts she’ll use it.

“For me, I think I would prefer a person-to-person visit,” Rigby said.

Jill Mesa said she might use it.

“If the doctor’s office wasn’t open at the time or like on a weekend,” she said.

The women think 20-somethings will be more likely to use the app.

Another area health system, Mosaic Life Care, offers virtual visits for existing patients, and plans to also offer them to new patients soon.

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