Sometimes women don’t have time to make it to the doctor’s office, or they simply need care immediately. That’s where E-visits come in.
Becoming a popular form of care for women’s health, the E-visit can provide care for contraception, emergency contraception, urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted disease (STI) screening, and for other concerns such as cough, cold, flu, allergies, and COVID-19.
Members log onto kp.org, fill out a short questionnaire about their symptoms, and are then connected to a physician via email within 2 hours between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
“We are helping break down different obstacles around time, transportation, and comfort level to make it as easy as possible for women to address these important needs around sexual health,” said Anne Srisuro, MD, director of Women’s Health for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
Although E-visits and various forms of telehealth are a great way to get care fast, Kaiser Permanente embeds this form of care into its greater offering of health care services and offers the same quality whether in-person or virtually.
Members are satisfied
Last year, more than 10,000 women monthly used E-visits for their sexual health needs in Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Urinary tract infection E-visits had the highest volume with many women able to get medication without every seeing or speaking to a doctor.
STI screening had the second highest volume, with more than 4,000 a month. Dr. Srisuro said one reason for the popularity was that women are more comfortable disclosing their sexual behavior digitally versus in-person or over the phone with a doctor.
“These are very sensitive topics for a lot of women, and some are just more comfortable emailing a provider rather than talking to them in person,” she said.
Women can even receive medication for an STI after their lab results are delivered to their clinician. Kaiser Permanente Northern California data shows that STI screening through E-visits is more effective than in-person care.
Women who seek contraception online and know which kind they need can have their birth control sent in the mail. Although some members sometimes prefer to see their doctor in person or have qualifications that require them to be seen in-person, most women can receive contraception and emergency contraception through an E-visit.
Many women are also using the Kaiser Permanente app to have women’s health appointments.
Recently, Kaiser Permanente redesigned its member app and website to make them even easier to use. Member satisfaction with the digital experience rose from 86% to 92%.
In the future
Dr. Srisuro said the goal of digital health care is meeting patients where they’re at and providing them with multiple forms of care — all with the goal of long-term preventive health. “We want to make sure our members can plan pregnancy when they’re ready,” she said.