The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network app is available for patients with Apple and Android smartphones. Built by Inception Health, the innovation arm of the Froedtert & MCW health network, it launched in March 2020 to provide quick care options and make interacting with your health care provider a more personalized experience. Its launch also came at just the right time to assist patients who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
“Navigating health care in our country is generally complex and difficult,” said Bradley Crotty, MD, chief digital engagement officer at the Froedtert & MCW health network. “One of our primary goals is to break that complexity down and make it easier for people to get the care they need in a way that shows we value them and their time.”
With the app being built in-house, Inception Health used input from Froedtert & MCW physicians and patients, who were asked what they would look for in a health care app and one might best meet their needs. Steve Basilotto, chief experience officer of Froedtert Health, says it was very important to gather that feedback prior to development to ensure current and future functionality could be planned. With that knowledge in tow, the app builders melded that information into an easy-to-use, patient-centered app. In its current form, the app features four main aspects:
In the current day and age of social distancing, virtual visits are a secure, easy and convenient way to connect with a health care provider without leaving the comfort and safety of your own home. Using your phone or tablet’s camera, two types of virtual visits can be conducted right through the app.
One is an on-demand virtual visit, where a clinician will assess common conditions such as a sore throat, skin rash or ankle sprain. The other is a scheduled visit with your established care team, such as your primary or specialty care physician, that takes the place of your in-person visit.
“You open the app, tap on ‘on-demand video visit,’ share your main concern and then you’re in the virtual waiting room waiting to be seen,” Dr. Crotty said. “Then, for scheduled video visits, you’ll see how to virtually check in under the ‘appointments’ tab and enter the virtual waiting room by tapping the ‘begin visit’ button. These visits are linked to your MyChart account, which ensures we have your most up-to-date health information, such as your medication list.”
On-demand virtual visits carry a flat fee, while scheduled virtual visits are billed through your insurance provider.
In addition to allowing the ability to visit virtually with your provider, having your MyChart account linked within the F&MCW app allows you a one-stop-shop access to all of your pertinent health care information. With just a few taps, you’re able to view your test results, send and receive messages with your doctors, digitally fill out any forms needed and manage your prescriptions.
FastCare Appointment Scheduling
If you are in need of same-day, in-person care, the ‘FastCare Clinics’ tab can help. Once you tap into it, you’re shown a map highlighting your location and nearby FastCare Clinic locations. Tap on a location and you will see its address and available appointment times. You can then choose the time that works best for you, briefly state the purpose of your visit and confirm your FastCare appointment.
“We are really trying to make the process of scheduling appointments and getting connected to care as easy as possible for our patients,” Dr. Crotty said.
Artificial Intelligence Symptom Checker
This in-app symptom checker tool records the symptoms you’re having and will ask questions to understand what condition you may be experiencing. It will then show you a list of up to three possible conditions that could be a result of your symptoms and recommend the proper level of care for each.
“It covers well over 1,000 conditions,” Dr. Crotty said. “The AI symptom checker appropriately decides the level of care necessary, which is generally lower than what patients think is needed. Compared to just Googling symptoms, which usually can cause some anxiety, a study in JAMA Network Open showed that symptom checkers usually provide more of a reassurance for patients than creating a higher level of worry.”
More Functions Coming Soon
Inception Health plans to roll out additional features on the app to further help patients connect to care. For example, there will soon be digital health tools that your provider can prescribe you to use through the app, say for chronic disease management or mental health. There will also be a new feature that will give patients the ability to check in through the app for their in-person appointment, essentially bypassing the in-office check-in desk. Also, similar to the current FastCare Clinic process, you’ll soon be able to see open appointments for specialty care services, such as orthopaedics.
“This app is essentially software that helps you live a healthier and more functional life,” Dr. Crotty said. “You have medicines that change biology, devices like stents that change physiology and now, this app to help you connect the dots for care to better manage your health. We hope everybody downloads it, gets signed in and gets connected so they have it ready to go in their pocket should a health condition arise, or if they need to read their MyChart, send a message to their doctor or refill their prescriptions.”