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As people continue to look for ways to honor the guidelines of social distancing, virtual and tele-connections are now more important than ever. With this knowledge that Hospice of Chattanooga and Palliative Care Services, under the Alleo Health System umbrella, are rolling out telehealth visits for their patients to be sure everyone can still get the care and help that's so key during this time. Hospice of Chattanooga and Palliative Care Services are under the Alleo Health umbrella.

Thanks to the Synzi platform and app, Alleo Health System can now offer their patients and families direct access to their provider without having to leave home.

"We wanted to eliminate any concern people have about leaving the house and make sure that they still have options to accommodate them," explained Dr. Greg Phelps, Chief Medical Officer, Alleo Health System.

He went on to share that families can utilize pretty much any device as long as it has camera and microphone access: iPad, iPhone, Android, laptop or computer with a web cam; they're all good to go.

"This way you can still speak and see your doctor or nurse practitioner face to face just like you would at an appointment," Phelps said, noting the simplicity of the experience and technology. "If you can FaceTime, you can use this app without any trouble."

Providers will have one app, while patients and caregivers will have another through Synzi, but Dr. Phelps stressed that everything is kept private and confidential, and all data that's shared is encrypted making it safe and HIPAA compliant.

"It's very straightforward, and you don't have to worry about your private information being misused or compromised," he explained.

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Another great feature that this venue provides is the ability for patients to add family members and caregivers, so that everyone involved in the treatment plan can be looped in on calls and messages to help keep entire families up to speed with what's happening from visit to visit. There is not a limit on the number of users who can be on calls and messages.

For those new to any type of virtual visit like these, Dr. Phelps said it works much the same as an office visit where patients can share their concerns or questions and get answers directly from their doctor or nurse practitioner.

"You'll see them and talk to them over your device, and you can discuss your medications, symptoms, and treatment," he said. "For those who have certain types of continued care, RNs and CNAs will still be in the home setting to continue to deliver quality care as needed by the patient."

Dr. Phelps also shared that providers can do prescriptions via email following a visit as well as help get medications refilled, all while utilizing their technology for the continued comfort and care for their patients.

"Everything will be done through scheduled appointments on the app by your provider," Phelps added, noting that they

have that safeguard to help providers not be overwhelmed. "There are also ways to send messages, similar to texting, and email alerts that providers can send out to remind patients of appointment times as well as surveys to help patients log information that will help at any future appointments."

He added that surveys could include types of symptoms with yes or no options for patients to select and/or options for patients to give descriptions about how their visit went and whether they still need any additional help or assistance.

When it comes to getting started on the app, providers will send invites to their patients to get things set in motion, and the app on the providers' side will also house all their patients to make contact simpler. So, those not currently on board need only to contact their provider for an invite or call Alleo Health's Referral Intake number.

"If patients lose or accidentally delete the app, your provider can resend an invite at any time," Phelps assured, also noting that they will help get them set up once they start and offer any assistance needed for those who may not be tech savvy.

Dr. Phelps said they are planning to keep the service long term, as well.

"We're planning to use this in the long run for patient care plans and not just in the midst of pandemic," he shared.

"For those in rural areas where it may take 45 minutes or more just to drive to an office for something that's already hard and exhausting, this is a great tool to help make it easier for things that can just be handled over a call."

Phelps also added that this service is key to help reduce avoidable readmissions to the hospital as well as helping those patients and families who just cannot get out to a provider.

"In the event of a crisis, we are simply a phone call or teleheath visit away," he said. "Letting patients and families remain in their home without the burden of going to the ER reduces the level of stress on the family in the event of a crisis."

To learn more about the telehealth options with Alleo Health or any of their services, contact them today at 423-892-1533 or visit alleohealth.org.

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