Local health care offered online

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

By Sharna Johnson
The Internet is making it possible to visit the doctor’s office without leaving your home.

Using the newly launched “Pres-e-Care” Web system, patients of Plains Regional Medical Center doctors can check lab results, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and even consult with their doctor, according to Elizabeth Schomburg, spokeswoman for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, the hospital’s parent company.

E-mail consultations are intended for non-urgent issues such as seasonal allergies, she said. In the system, patients fill out an in-depth survey to define their symptoms. The doctor has eight hours to respond, she said.

The system will cut the number of trips and phone calls patients have to make to the doctor’s office, officials hope.

There are 14 PRMC-affiliated doctors using the system and Presbyterian plans to expand the program to all of its physicians statewide.

Patients living in remote rural areas may especially find the service convenient and efficient, Schomburg said, explaining a lot of patients seen at PRMC are from outlying communities.

“If a patient lives outside of Clovis, now they can just visit (the doctor) online,” she said.

“It’s about providing our patients and members the right care at the right time and in the right place.”

The only service with associated costs is the consultation element, she said. Consultations may carry a co-pay depending on insurance carriers.

“If it’s going to keep from tying up the system at the hospital and make it more efficient for the patients, I think it’s a great idea,” said Larry Garrison of Clovis, who has used the hospital’s services in the past.

“I think that’s convenient for the patients that maybe don’t need (to go in to see the doctor),” he said.

“And it’s going to help a lot of homebound people that have Internet access.”