On February 20 we launched a new online clinical care service called the SmartExam. This offering is specifically designed to provide additional access to care for common ailments at an affordable price point. We know that the two most common concerns of our community members (and all Americans) are access and cost. With the escalating challenge of fewer physicians and certain clinical staff, we must look at new methods of providing high quality, affordable care to our community members.

SmartExam is not intended to be used for complex care or when a provider needs to see the patient in person. The process screens for these patients and if the provider feels that the patient should come in and be seen they will let them know, and then there will be no charge for the SmartExam.

The exam uses evidence-based medicine in the care process. You answer questions online about your current symptoms, medications, and health history. Then, your information is reviewed by a healthcare provider at Winona Health who will provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. If necessary, the provider can send a prescription to your pharmacy. No appointment or in-person visit is required. The beauty of the SmartExam is you can access it from home, work, school, sports event or really anywhere through your mobile device or laptop as long as you have an internet connection.

Within the first week of offering this service, I found myself in need of medical care for a bad head cold and sinus infection that had been going on for several days. So, I logged in online through the My Winona Health portal and began my SmartExam. (If you do not have a My Winona Health account, you can call 507.457.7680 to register. After registering, future use of SmartExam will not require a phone call.) It took roughly 15 minutes to answer questions and provide my pharmacy information. Within 10 minutes I had a response from a provider letting me know my diagnosis and the treatment she was prescribing; my prescriptions were sent to my pharmacy. I also received a summary of my appointment in my email and a receipt for my visit (payment can be made by credit/debit card or HSA card). I found this to be an easy process and a great care experience. What I am really happy about is our Winona Health providers are the ones reviewing the exams and providing the clinical care based on the information collected from the patient—just as they do in the exam room.

SmartExam is an effective option when you or your child has a cold, flu, allergies, a rash, urinary tract infection, yeast infection, pink eye, sore throat, ear ache, or many other common medical conditions. Prescriptions for birth control and support for behavioral health issues can also be provided through SmartExam. Winona Health SmartExam visits are just $39.

We are proud to be our area’s primary care provider, and it’s a privilege to care for you. As we carry on Winona Health’s 125-year tradition of caring for our community, we’re committed to improving access to high-quality care that is also convenient and affordable.

For more information about SmartExam, visit: winonahealth.org/SmartExam.

Rachelle Schultz, EdD

Through this digital column, I hope to shine a light on what we’re working on both internally and beyond our walls in collaboration with other community-focused organizations.

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