By Carrie Vittitoe

Whether you are caregiver to a child, an aging parent, or a spouse, it can be a difficult job. Few things are more frustrating than when a loved one is sick or in pain. During those times, we want to access medical care as quickly and easily as possible. Fortunately, new technologies and some tried-and-true caregiver experience can help pave the way for faster and better medical care for your loved one.

“It is extremely frustrating to have to wait three to six months to get an appointment for certain specialists, such as a neurologist or sometimes even a dermatologist. Long waits in the waiting room are also a pet peeve.” — Dan Heins (Board VP, Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana)

Technology is making it easier for patients to not only make appointments with the ease of an app, but even to see a physician or without leaving home.

Norton Healthcare utilizes My Norton Chart which, according to Norton Medical Group vice president and pediatrician, Dr. Josh Honaker, has five primary functions: schedule appointments, access lab results, pay bills, access medical records, and communicate with physicians. My Norton Chart also gives patients the opportunity to have a video visit or an e-visit with a nurse practitioner. A video visit is a face-to-face appointment over a secure network for patients in Kentucky and Indiana ages 2 and older with non-urgent health concerns like sinus infections and rashes. Patients complete a questionnaire and then receive a telephone call from a Norton nurse practitioner. Rachel Alexander, APRN, Norton eCare’s program coordinator, says e-visits are only available to Kentucky residents who are ages 18 and older and cost $35. Alexander notes “If we cannot help them and have to refer them on, we do not charge them.”

Honaker says some patients are skeptical at first of a video or e-visit, but they quickly change their minds. “It is such a novel and innovative approach to delivering care,” he says. “Patients love it.”

Another option for homebound or home-limited patients is MD2U, that provides home-based primary care. Jessica Dsouza, vice president of clinical operations at MD2U, says, “We have a great group of nurse practitioners who are good at managing chronic diseases and have more time to spend with patients.” Not only can MD2U perform full health assessments, lab work, ultrasounds, X-rays, and echocardiograms at patients’ homes, they also help patients get other social needs met, such as helping them access counseling services or food bank assistance. Dsouza says in rural areas of the state, like Somerset and Madisonville, it makes a huge difference because patients have to travel for doctor appointments.

Illustration by Silvia Cabib