It was 4:40 p.m. and all of a sudden I realized that, while I had put off going to my primary care provider, the symptoms I was experiencing were not going to go away. At this time of day, working across town from my provider, I clearly wasn’t going to be able to make it in for a same-day appointment.
Then I remembered the new HealtheVisits service that Affinity Health System offers. As a Lean Leader at Affinity, I wanted to observe and study it personally. I signed into the site and selected my symptoms. The system took me through a series of questions that I easily answered in four minutes (I was timing it).
What stood out the most in this process was that the program filtered out my allergy to one of the most popularly prescribed antibiotics for my particular symptom. Another benefit was that it offered a choice of how I would be contacted when my plan of care was completed—via text, email or phone. After selecting my preferences, I hit the submit button, paid the $35 out-of-pocket cost and six minutes later my plan of care was ready.
I received a text message with my diagnosis and link to my prescription, and found that I needed an antibiotic, which made me appreciate the allergy-filter that much more. The link I was provided allowed me to send my prescription to the pharmacy of my choice, showing me the locations in my zip code.
I packed up what I had been working on and headed for the pharmacy, I was thrilled that my prescription had been received quickly and my medication was ready right away. The HealtheVisits experience couldn’t have been better for me, and I would highly recommend the service. Thanks to everyone who put this together and the Affinity Medical Group providers who are managing the service, I was able to receive an accurate, convenient diagnosis, get treatment and go on with my day. It’s a great service!
To learn more about HealtheVisits, visit affinityhealth.org/healthevisits.
Author: Marie Larson – Lean Leader at Affinity Health System
My phone buzzes. I pick it up and see the message “There is one HealtheVisit in the queue.”
In this case, the visit is for June (name changed), a 45-year-old woman who has had burning with urination for about 24 hours. Before the message appeared on my phone, June had been to the HealtheVisits website and supplied a thorough description of her current illness as well as relevant medical history. Giving this information was easy thanks to the interview questions on the site that took her step-by-step through the process. June is otherwise healthy and has no symptoms requiring a face-to-face visit, so the answers to her questions are packaged and sent to me.
Upon seeing the notification of a waiting HealtheVisit, I log into the website and read through June’s information. Some of the more important bits are highlighted for me in red by the computer. It appears that June has had several urinary tract infections in the past and recognized the symptoms of this one as soon as they appeared. She has had no fever or back pain. She is allergic to amoxicillin. After careful review, I move on to the treatment options page. Here the website gives me several options all based on the best medical evidence. I choose uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) as the diagnosis and check the box to send a prescription for an appropriate antibiotic. Hitting the “send” button notifies June that her HealtheVisit has been completed.
Not all HealtheVisits, however, are quite this straight-forward. Many symptoms, while miserable, will not improve if treated with an antibiotic. When this happens, we do our best to suggest ways to relieve symptoms and provide education as to what warning signs indicate the need to be rechecked.
My phone buzzes again and I look at the message, “The HealtheVisit queue is empty.” This online diagnosis and treatment system has helped another patient, and will bring fast, accurate medical care to many more.
To learn more about HealtheVisits, visit affinityhealth.org/healthevisits.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! If you’re a first time mom-to-be, you’ll likely be filled of both questions and excitement. After you’ve celebrated your good news, your next to-do item is a trip to your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). It’s a good idea to meet with your provider regularly throughout your pregnancy, and it’s best if your first appointment takes place soon after you suspect you’re pregnant or take an at-home pregnancy test.
At your first appointment, your health care provider will confirm your pregnancy and then do an examination, much like your typical physical, to assess your general health. Your weight and blood pressure will be recorded, and your provider will check your heart, lungs, belly and breasts. You’ll also receive a pelvic exam, which includes a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer and vaginal cultures to screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your provider will then manually determine the size of your uterus and pelvis while simultaneously checking for any abnormalities of your uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Everyday factors that could affect your pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or infections, should be identified right away and addressed immediately.
At your first visit, they will also go over your health history and your family’s medical history to determine if there are any risk factors that could affect your pregnancy. These risk factors could include your age, any existing or previous health conditions you may have and any genetic illnesses that may be present in your family. Your provider will also ask about any previous surgeries or exposure to contagious diseases, and they will ask about any medications—prescription or over-the-counter—that you take or have taken in the past. Continue Reading »
Americans are eating out more than ever. It used to be a struggle to eat healthy when eating away from home, but in the last few years restaurants and other eateries have been making some changes to remedy that. Kids’ menu items now include fresh vegetables such as baby carrots and steamed broccoli as side dishes, and fruit cups for dessert. Lighter fare and gluten free options can now be found on the menu in some restaurants. These changes are a breath of fresh air and whole-heartedly welcome. Many health professionals hope that more changes will arise as more consumers demand healthy food when eating out.
One way to choose healthier options is to look at the nutrition information. Big chain restaurants, by law, now have to provide nutrition information upon request by the consumer. Smaller or local eateries are encouraged to do so as well.
In the Fox Valley, a community-wide initiative highlighting menu items that get a “thumbs up” from local health professionals was developed to help patrons identify healthier foods when eating out. The initiative is called SmartPlate and it involves the collaboration of many local partners including Affinity Health System, local health departments, re:TH!NK, Community Action for Health Living and others.
These community partners have been working with local restaurants, caterers and Fox Valley Technical College to offer and identify items at restaurants that include healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. These SmartPlate items use fresh herbs, spices and natural flavors to create delicious food without using too much salt, fat and sugar.
The SmartPlate icon clearly identifies menu items that you can eat everyday. Look for it at local restaurants like Lara’s Tortilla Flats, Mahoney’s, and Manila in Oshkosh; Fin ‘N Feather in Winneconne; Landreman’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna, Copper Rock and Bagelicious in Appleton; Angie’s Main Café and Luigi’s Pizza in Shawano; and Granary Supper Club in Sherwood.
Thinking of catering a meal for a work party or celebration? Catering options are also included in the SmartPlate program. LaSure’s in Oshkosh and Bridgewood Resort in Neenah are two new partners that are offering SmartPlate items as part of their catering options. So if your workplace ever needs to order lunch or there is a group hosting an event, just ask for the SmartPlate menu and feel good that your co-workers, and guests, are eating foods that are SmartPlate approved.
For more information about SmartPlate visit: www.smartplatewi.com or watch this short informational video. http://www.thenorthwestern.com/videos/life/2014/12/01/19734335/
Do you know what the symptoms of the flu are? While often confused with a common stomach virus that runs its course, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, especially in older individuals. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently—even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated isn’t just important for yourself; when more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Below are some commonly asked questions about flu vaccinations:
How well does the flu vaccine project someone from the flu?
There are many different strains of influenza, so the vaccine—and its effectiveness—can vary from year to year. Each year a vaccine is developed to match the strains expected to be prevalent in the coming flu season. While it is impossible to predict the prevalent strains exactly, the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Its effectiveness also depends on your typical health; the vaccine is effective, but it won’t make you invincible.
Is there a vaccination for children and a different vaccination for adults?
There are two different types of flu vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and quadrivalent, which protects against four. It is advised that patients speak with their provider to determine which vaccine is best for them. Continue Reading »