FAIRMONT, Minn. — Jerome Determan isn’t one to back down from a challenge. In 2009, when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he was told he may only live for another three years.
Eleven years later: “I feel just fine,” said Determan, 88, of Fairmont, Minn.
Having yet to achieve remission, Determan is still undergoing treatment for his cancer, and he’s doing so in a world that poses a more acute threat to his health: COVID-19. And while he still must seek on-site infusion treatments at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, some of his appointments can be handled remotely through video visits. Like many other health care organizations across the country, Mayo Clinic Health System quickly rolled out widespread use of video visits across various departments during the past few weeks to ensure patients could stay safely at home while still being connected to their health care providers.
“We have very much appreciated our patients’ willingness to try the technology so we can continue to provide them with quality care in their homes,” says Amrit Singh, M.B.B.S., Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont oncologist. “We’ve been so pleased with how smoothly the process has gone and how many patients we’ve been able to serve so far. We want to encourage many more patients to schedule these visits for any health care needs that don’t require a physical exam during this period when it’s safer to shelter in place.”
Telehealth has been used for years at Mayo Clinic and throughout the health system, including on rural medical campuses to connect patients with specialists in Rochester, among other locations. But the novel coronavirus required a hastening of widespread use, meaning thousands of patients like Determan are experiencing it for the first time this spring.
“Our concern at first was acquainting patients with the technology. In Oncology, we work in large part with an older population and not all of them have access to computers,” says Tracy Culbertson, Oncology nurse manager, Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. “But a lot of people have had family members who can help. Or, if they have a computer and can log into their Patient Online Services account and click the link that says, ‘Click here to start visit,’ then a member of the Mayo Clinic Connected Care team appears on the screen and walks the patient through the process of ensuring the sound and video are working properly. They make it very simple.”
When a doctor’s visit on the computer first came up, Determan thought, “Well, I’m computer illiterate.” But thankfully his wife, Donna, is not. She has a computer and an iPad, and she got her husband all set up for his first video visit. The visits only require a device and an internet connection. No software needs to be downloaded.
“I’ve used Skype, and it’s very similar,” says Donna. “I got it on the computer, and everything went fine. (The Connected Care person) walks you right through it. It went really smooth.”
Determan agreed. In fact, he was so impressed with how smoothly and quickly the visit went, he hopes they continue using it after the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been trips he and Donna have made to Rochester for check-ups that don’t involve a physical exam, and he thinks video visits would be a big time-saver.
“In this day and age, if there’s new technology that will make things better for you and me, then let’s do it,” says Determan. “If we all kept using the same stuff we were born with, we’d all be driving horses and buggies. Let’s progress with the world.”
Patients need to have a Patient Online Services account to take advantage of video visits. They can inquire about setting up an account when calling to make an appointment.
Appointments for video visits are required. Patients are asked to log into their account 15 minutes before their appointment. Their provider will log in at the scheduled visit time and the session will begin.
“One of the many great features of this type of visit is that the provider has the option to share his or her screen with the patient, and the patient can actually see scans or test results on their own computer screen,” says Culbertson. “They can show them a list of their medications to make sure they’re all correct. It’s a really nice visual.”
Culbertson said many patients have been apprehensive to try a video visit, but once completed, they’ve realized how easy and convenient the technology is.
“They express gratitude for keeping them safe at home,” says Culbertson.
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.
Press ContactAmanda Dyslin