July 9, 2015 --
Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is connecting with its patients using 24/7 Web-based technology.
NBHC's staff is ramping up their patient care options to include RelayHealth, which is a service-provided clinical connectivity to physicians, patients, hospitals and more through the use of innovative health information technology, according to the website: http://www.relayhealth.com/.
Lt. Cmdr. Donald Mitchell, senior nurse executive, NBHC Albany, outlined an overview and discussed many of the conveniences the online accessibility RelayHealth would offer to the clinic's eligible patients.
"RelayHealth is a tool that was developed by an outside agency," Mitchell said. "The military -- especially -- the Navy said, 'Hey, we have to find a way to better communicate with our patients during off duty hours.' We need to try and prevent them from the menial things that keep them coming into the hospital; there are some things that we can take care of online. So, RelayHealth is (an online) mechanism for us to communicate in a secure way with our patients. Really, it is an encrypted online repository."
Mitchell gave some details of how the RelayHealth process works.
"When patients sign up, they have a box where they communicate to us," he explained. "It's really a notification rather than an email; once we open the notification, we respond (to their inquiry). There are (other) things patients can do through RelayHealth. They can schedule appointments to be seen here. And, the robust thing about this system is that it gives the patient three options (in scheduling). Another thing is patients can get their lab results without having to take time off from work, having to provide for child care, etcetera. And, third, which I think is the biggest (advantage) is they can do what we call Web visits. For example, if they have some recurring issues that they've seen their provider for already, then all the doctor has to do is to put in (a script) for some medication and that's it."
In summarizing the overall advantage to providing additional health-care options to the patient, Mitchell listed a number of conveniences active duty and eligible family members may benefit from in using the Web-based service.
"I look at (RelayHealth) as a way to receive timely medicine, efficient medicine and safe medicine; patients don't have to take off work and they don't have to find someone to watch their kids," he said."Then, let's face it, hospitals and clinics are places where people come who are sick. (We don't) want to continue bringing a healthy person into a sick environment. That's what I like (most) about RelayHealth."
In 2014, NBHC Albany implemented a 24-hour Nurse Advice Line, which gives active duty and retired service members and their beneficiaries around-the-clock access to medical information and advice.
Mitchell made a point to differentiate between the two patient information services.
"They are two separate entities," Mitchell pointed out. "When someone calls the Nurse Call Center, there is a nurse on the other end of that line who gives advice to the patient. The nurse gives verbal advice and will either: (a) tell you to schedule an appointment for you to be seen by a doctor, or (b) will refer you to emergency care or urgent care."
Mitchell reiterated that both the RelayHealth and Nurse Advice Line are in place to support an abundance of evidence from medical research and studies, which suggest that patients want to have options. In his opinion, these services are a means for providing optional patient care and satisfaction.