Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare and Carris Health care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to helps us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

How Carris Health is using video visits to care for patients

Published in Behavioral Health Services, Video Visits, Wellness Tag: Emily Hayden, DO   Jennifer Flinn, PsyD,LP  

Author: Staff

Physicians and advanced practice professionals are committed to the health and wellbeing of their patients throughout this pandemic. Thankfully, new tools such as video visits are available as an alternative to office visits to help patients maintain good health and manage chronic conditions from home.

A MyChart Video Visit is a live, scheduled video appointment using the MyChart patient portal. This allows your provider to interact with you by smartphone, tablet or desktop device with a camera. MyChart Video Visits are similar to a traditional office-based visit but allow patients to connect face-to-face with a provider without leaving their home. MyChart video visits are secure and HIPAA compliant.

A virtual door to our patients

“We’re in a unique situation,” said Dr. Hayden. “It can be scary changing the way you are used to practicing medicine, but this is a pandemic. We’re doing everything we can to keep our patients safe and video visits have been an essential solution to getting patients seen in a timely manner.”

Thirty minutes prior to the video visit, a patient checks in to their MyChart account and reviews their information. This is similar to when a patient checks in at the clinic before an in-person appointment to ensure all of their information is up to date. If it is their first time with the MyChart Video Visit, they will also need to download an app to connect.

Dr. Emily Hayden with her nurse, Amanda, shows how video visits work.

Dr. Emily Hayden with her nurse, Amanda, shows how video visits work.

Amanda Toutges, LPN, works together with Dr. Hayden to prepare the patient in a video or phone visit just like she would in an exam room visit. “There have been a few frustrations if a patient can’t get the video visit to work,” said Amanda. “In those cases, we may transition to a telephone visit at the last minute if that is what works best for the patient.”

“Everything has to be entered into the system before a video visit can take place,” said Dr. Hayden. “There is quite a bit of work that goes into preparing a patient’s chart before you see them.”

On a regular clinic schedule prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hayden would see an average of 13-16 patients per day in the clinic. “Now I’ve adjusted my hours and I’m able to see around twelve patients between 7:30 - 11:45 a.m. each morning with video or telephone visits. I spend most of my afternoons prepping charts for the next day’s appointments.”

Trying out a new way to see your doctor can be intimidating for some people, and not every medical situation is right for a video visit. Your doctor knows when a video visit can be used in place of an office visit.

Dr. Hayden says patients seem to be happy to see and speak with her over video. “It’s been helpful to manage medications, get refills, perform annual physicals, wellness checks and more. If a patient needs to physically come into the clinic for other things such as coumadin clinic or lab work, I will try to see them in person because they’re already here. But we are doing our best to assess patient needs and use a variety of tools to provide safe, appropriate care. This is our new normal.”

Therapy from home

Adam Mooberry, a physical therapist with Carris Health has also been able to use video visits with certain patients where appropriate.

“It’s been really great to see how technology can help us direct patient care in the safety and security of their own homes,” said Adam. “Yes, this challenges us as clinicians—we have to think outside the box with our instruction and typical examination procedures—but it also provides us with an opportunity for professional growth.”

The use of MyChart Video Visits allows physical, occupational and speech therapists to engage in individualized, home-based treatment programs. A video visit is similar to an office visit with a therapist, with real time guidance and feedback while actively taking you through a therapy session.

There are several benefits for patients receiving speech therapy services. Because they don’t have to leave their home or wait behind other patients, it can make it easier for patients to schedule and keep appointments. It can also reduce commuting costs to and from the clinic.

Adam shared that patients have been pleased with the service, especially those at higher risk for severe illness who are safer staying at home.

Video visits allow for face-to-face, real time sessions, with progress similar to traditional speech therapy visits. It’s a convenient option for our patients using innovative technology.

“Obviously this will not work for every patient,” said Adam. “Some patients still need to be seen in person, especially when more manual therapy techniques are being used.”

The value of video with behavioral health

Addressing our patients’ mental health is as important as addressing their physical health.

Many individuals are experiencing stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, living with mental health conditions can feel isolating, and social distancing can make that worse.

Dr. Jennifer Flinn shares what her patients see during a video visit with her.

Dr. Jennifer Flinn shares what her patients see during a video visit with her.

Dr. Jennifer Flinn, a psychologist with Carris Health in Redwood Falls, has been actively using MyChart video visits with her patients. The virtual video platform is an accessible and convenient solution for patients in need. It is also a secure, private option that patients can participate in from the comfort of their own home.

“Video visits have provided an unprecedented opportunity to stay connected to patients and maintain a continuity of care that appears to be more critical than ever due to the many unknowns people may be facing,” said Dr. Flinn. “This way of delivering care currently allows for the most authentic in clinic appointment experience available to providers.”

It’s important to get help when you need it. Ignoring your mental health can lead to worsening symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.

“Delivering telehealth has truly been an invaluable platform to continue to serve my patients in the best way that I can,” shared Dr. Flinn. “I feel unbelievably grateful to be part of a health care system like Carris Health that combines patient wellbeing, ingenuity and continuity of care at the forefront as we all face COVID-19 together.”

Participating in MyChart Video Visits

To participate in a video visit, patients need to have a MyChart account and an internet connection. If someone doesn’t have a device that can support the MyChart app, a telephone visit is another option, but video visits are preferred as it allows for better interaction.

Patients should check with their provider or appointment scheduling to see if their medical concern can be addressed through a video visit. Learn more about getting started with a video visit.

If you have issues connecting to your MyChart video visit, technical assistance is available by calling 320-255-6599 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.