Collaborative Partners Bring Virtual Care Options to Midstate

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

When Charlotte-based Atrium Health and Macon, Ga.-based Navicent Health announced their strategic combination in January 2019, one primary objective of the partnership was to improve the depth and breadth of services offered to healthcare consumers in the Georgia market, particularly in the area of virtual care.

At that time, the two health systems announced that Atrium Health would invest capital and work with Navicent Health’s clinical experts to enhance services, particularly implementing innovative treatment models like virtual care to create the next generation of healthcare for Georgians. Earlier this year, the partners implemented a virtual behavioral healthcare integration program at outpatient clinics throughout the midstate, and also began virtual patient observation to provide added protection for certain at-risk patients, including those at risk for falling or those with certain cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, in the midst of providing care for those with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the partners are pleased to bring the Atrium Virtual Visit platform to central Georgians. Through the Virtual Visit platform, healthcare consumers can connect directly to board-certified doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week by using their phone, tablet or computer. Local providers from Navicent Health Physician Group, including primary care providers and pediatricians, will consult with patients through the Virtual Visit platform each day between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., ensuring patients continue to connect with their trusted local doctors during regular business hours.

“Together, we are increasing consumers’ access to their local primary care providers through this platform. Virtual care is an option we have been working to bring to healthcare consumers in our region, and now, more than ever, it is important that people have a healthcare option that they feel comfortable accessing. With concerns about COVID-19, many patients have cancelled checkups and avoided visiting urgent care centers, but we want to make sure these people are continuing to receive the care they need. The Virtual Visit platform has a proven track record, with outstanding scores on patient satisfaction surveys. We’re excited to bring this product to central Georgians so they can continue to pursue health and wellness as they shelter in place,” said Tom Oliver, MD, President of Hospitals and Clinics, Navicent Health.

The Virtual Visit platform is designed as an on-demand service, with no need to make an appointment. Healthcare consumers can access Virtual Visit by visiting and creating an account. Once the patient logs in, they may browse doctor profiles and select who they would like to see by clicking a green “connect” button. If the doctor is available, he or she will appear on the patient’s screen. If not, the patient will be placed in a virtual waiting room and notified by text message once that doctor becomes available.

“By using the service, healthcare consumers can consult with their doctor, receive a real-time assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan. Virtual Visit offers a solution for conditions normally treated through primary and urgent care, such as allergies, bronchitis, sinus infections, strep throat, pink eye, hypertension, gout, rashes, stomach discomfort and urinary tract infections, We believe this will be a very useful service,” said Sanford Duke, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer for Navicent Health.

Virtual Visit should not be used for life-threatening conditions. In the event of an emergency, healthcare consumers should call 911.

“One of the primary goals of our strategic combination with Atrium Health was to bring virtual care options to central Georgians. We began that with the virtual behavioral health and virtual patient observation programs earlier this year. Now, we have the unique opportunity to provide virtual primary care and urgent care appointments in the midst of a global pandemic. This option allows us to bring care directly to the consumer during this unprecedented time,” said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, President and CEO of Navicent Health.