Providing health care through technology:
MaineGeneral eCare service offers another option to patients
Erica Dennett had a dilemma that all parents face – a child who has a health care need after the doctor’s office is closed.
Thanks to MaineGeneral eCare, a service of MaineGeneral Virtual Health, the Winthrop mother’s dilemma was quickly resolved with a virtual visit with MaineGeneral medical staff…all without taking her 5-year-old son Cole to an in-person appointment.
Cole was seen for a sudden painful ear ache, the clinician assessed him virtually, gave Erica some comfort care steps to take that evening and Cole was soon on the road to recovery.
“MaineGeneral eCare was incredibly convenient and easy to use,” Erica said. “I had Cole seen by a kind and knowledgeable medical professional, from the comfort of our home. We were listened to, taken care of and done with the visit in 10 minutes!”
“She made Cole feel very comfortable and he was totally fine with it,” Dennett added about her first experience with virtual care. “As a parent, it was helpful to have that reassurance and feel much calmer about the situation. I’m so excited that MaineGeneral is offering eCare. I think it’ll be a big hit and I suspect our family will be using it often.”
Offering more options for patients
Tina Netten, DNP, FNP-C, a clinician and MaineGeneral Express Care's medical director, has worked extensively with the team that helped launch the MaineGeneral Virtual Health service.
Virtual visits initially were piloted to MaineGeneral employees and dependents. It’s now available to anyone living in Maine.
Separately, MaineGeneral’s primary care practices began piloting telehealth appointments (Primary eCare) for follow-up appointments, which began at Elmwood Primary Care in Waterville and will expand to two other MaineGeneral primary care practices in February.
MaineGeneral had started efforts to begin offering various forms of virtual care before the start of COVID-19, Netten said. The quick spread of the pandemic – in the U.S. and then in Maine – only reinforced the importance of those efforts.
“The staff has really embraced it and have become more comfortable delivering care this way,” she said. “We expect the volume to really pick up now that we’ve extended eCare to the public. Those who have used it have found it to be very helpful.”
How eCare works
MaineGeneral eCare features fast, convenient medical care that can be received anywhere through a patient’s mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Intended for patients age three and older, it’s ideal for conditions such as allergies, cold and flu symptoms, rashes, ear infections, pink eye and more. And it’s affordable – $49 per visit (payable by credit, debit or Health Savings Account card).
The service is available from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. No appointment is needed.
Netten said MaineGeneral medical staff get a text when a patient is waiting to be seen and then log into the system to see the patient.
“This is a really great option for people to be seen for their less serious health care needs,” she said, “and I think patients who have used the service have been really happy to be able to do these types of visits.”
Chuck Hays, MaineGeneral Health president & CEO, also touted the benefits of the new service, especially during COVID-19.
“It offers fast, convenient and affordable virtual visits to anyone throughout the Kennebec Valley and beyond,” he said. “Access to quality health care at the right time is more important than ever. Patients have embraced telehealth during the pandemic as a safe, secure and convenient way to get the care they need, and we’re proud to offer it to people, wherever they are.”
To learn more about MaineGeneral eCare or to get an eCare visit, go to www.mainegeneral.org/ecare or find the app in the Apple or Google Play app stores by searching for MaineGeneral.