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Published on September 04, 2018

CentraCare Health expands access to care with 24/7 phone and video visits

Getting timely care for a variety of medical ailments in central Minnesota just got a lot easier.

CentraCare Health has expanded its popular CentraCare eClinic to include phone and video appointments. The new remote care options were added to build in more convenient and less costly access to CentraCare Health clinicians.

“These new services give our patients and families more ways to get the right level of care at the right time,” said Sean Wherry, MD, eClinic Physician Leader. “So instead of warming up the car in the middle of the night in January to drive a child with an earache into one of our emergency departments, a parent can get the help they need with a phone call or an online video visit.”

CentraCare eClinic services can be accessed on any device that has an internet connection, including computers, tablets, and mobile phones. Phone and video visits cost $45, not including prescription costs. CentraCare eClinic is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Most visits take 15 minutes or less.

CentraCare Health serves a wide geography with many patients living in small towns or rural areas. The system includes more than 35 clinics and specialty care centers, plus hospitals in St. Cloud, Monticello, Long Prairie, Melrose, Paynesville, Sauk Centre and Willmar. As the dominant care provider in the region, reducing barriers to care is an ongoing challenge.

“Many of our patients who live in small communities or rural areas had to rely on emergency room treatment during off-hours or on the weekends,” said Kelly Macken-Marble, Vice President of Ambulatory Services and Population Health. “That’s an expensive way to get care for conditions that are normally treated in the clinic.”

Patients who choose phone or video visits through CentraCare eClinic will speak live with a CentraCare clinician, typically a certified nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.

Online visits, which have been available since 2014, will continue to be offered for $25. Patients who choose an online visit will log into a secure website and answer a series of questions about their symptoms and medical history. Depending on the diagnosis, patients receive care instructions and/or a prescription.

All three video options – video, phone or online – are designed to provide care for a host of conditions, including the flu, sinus infection, pink eye or diaper rash.

CentraCare eClinic visits are available anytime online on centracare.com/eclinic. CentraCare Health offers other in-person care options for evenings and weekends, including the CentraCare Urgency Center, in St. Cloud. Patients can also chat live with a registered nurse or schedule an appointment at CentraCare Connect.

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