Rush University Medical Center offers online asynchronous "e-visits"

By Bernie Monegain
04:11 pm

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is among the first healthcare providers in the country to offer primary care patients the convenience of an online medical evaluation service.

Rush will begin to offer what the medical center’s executives call “electronic house calls.” But, to be clear, the service is entirely text-based and does not include live video chats with doctors.

Dubbed Rush SmartExam, the web-based application from makes it possible for patients to choose an electronic consultation with a physician. The doctor will determine a diagnosis and treatment plan that may include prescriptions.

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The visits are for minor issues, such as bladder infection, burn or sunburn, cough, cold and allergy, ear pain, flu and rashes, sinus issues and sore throat.

When patients register for the service via MyChart, Rush’s secure online health records system, they will be asked to answer 25 to 75 questions regarding their symptoms. The questionnaire typically takes patients 12 minutes to complete.

Once a questionnaire is completed, SmartExam sends it to participating Rush providers, who will receive a text message alerting them that a patient is waiting. The doctor can log in from any device and review the information gathered from the patient, along with a computer-generated diagnosis based on a sophisticated algorithm. The diagnosis uses the information gathered from the patient questionnaire and provides physicians with a thorough, personalized, and evidence-based set of information to support the diagnosis and recommended treatment.

“Patients will be able to get a medical evaluation electronically from the comfort of their home for non-urgent conditions commonly treated by a primary care physician,” Dr. Anthony Perry said in a statement. “People have busy lives and we want to create convenient and high-quality options that work.”

Perry is one of the “e-visit” practicing physicians and chief medical officer for Rush University Medical Group.

"When someone doesn’t feel well, it may be difficult for them to get out of bed and walk or drive to a doctor’s office. Having an e-visit is a convenient way for patients to get advice for common health issues, such as coughs, colds, flu, and ear pain,” said Dr. Christen Bibbs, assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush and another of the e-visit participating physicians.