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Streamlining Patient Visits With Touchless Arrivals and Text Messages

Look, but don’t touch.

Those words resonate now more than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Northwestern Medicine, patients will now interface with a variety of new tools and technologies before and during their appointments, tools designed to enhance safety for patients, physicians and staff.

“COVID-19 is changing some facets of the patient experience,” says Sara Williamson, director of Access, Scheduling and Physician Referral at Northwestern Medicine. “We appreciate our patients embracing the new technology that is helping to make their visits safe and seamless.”

Prior to appointments, patients will be asked to use eCheck-In through their NM MyChart accounts. With eCheck-In, they can review and update their registration information online instead of at a care site. They will be able to review demographics, medical and insurance information, pay any necessary co-pays and complete any required clinical questionnaires as well. Information will be stored in NM MyChart and the patient’s electronic medical record so it can be reviewed during appointments.

In addition, some sites have a Welcome Kiosk installed. For these locations, a QR code will be provided through NM MyChart to be used once the patient arrives at the appointment site. At the kiosk, patients will scan the QR code to notify the care team that the patient has arrived and checked in at the office, diagnostic center or surgery suite.

Patients may also receive text messages to help promote physical distancing and track building occupancy. For example, at some locations, patients may choose to wait outside of the facility until their provider is ready to see them; the care team will then send a text message to notify the patient when it is time to enter the building.

At more than 30 hospital entrances across Northwestern Medicine, thermal cameras are in use to monitor body temperatures of everyone entering the building as a contactless option to help screen for COVID-19. Those who have an elevated temperature are notified discreetly and provided additional guidance. The use of thermal cameras is rapidly expanding across Northwestern Medicine, including to suburban physician offices.

“We look forward to seeing our patients again,” Williamson says. “Though some aspects of the check-in procedure have changed, our commitment to providing world-class health care remains the same.”