Wake Forest Baptist to begin email consultations: 5 things to know

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Beginning in November, patients at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., can email their physicians with questions or follow-up information from a recent office visit, according to a Winston-Salem Journal report.

Here are five things to know about the email program.

1. The formal email program largely caters to two scenarios: After an office visit, patients may want to ask a follow-up question, or a patient may develop symptoms, but doesn't think they warrant a trip to the office.

2. Such email consultations may carry a fee, depending on the context of the interaction. For example, in the first scenario of a patient having a follow-up question, there likely would be no fee. However, if a clinician needs to make a clinical decision like adjusting medication, they would need to document the interaction as an eVisit and charge for it, according to the report.

3. Patients requesting this type of visit can send an email through the hospital's patient portal. They first have to fill out a questionnaire listing their symptoms, and if the symptoms don't require an in-person visit, a clinician receives a message indicating a patient has requested an eVisit.

4. Wake Forest Baptist has not yet determined a fee for its eVisits, but Richard Lord, MD, chairman of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist, told Winston-Salem Journal the types of visits anticipated likely wouldn't cost more than $49.

5. When the program goes live Nov. 1, just employees and their families will be able to use the eVisit option. Wake Forest Baptist plans to open eVisits to all patients Jan. 1.

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