CHRISTUS Physician Group is drastically expanding telehealth services and online screening tools across South and Southeast Texas with the launch of secure video and telephone visits and an online COVID-19 screening tool.


“Our decision to further deploy and ramp up virtual visits among other remote services for our communities is something we are doing to protect patients and our teams from this infectious disease,” said Paul Generale. CHRISTUS Health’s Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Network Officer. “You will see a real move on the part of all of us on the frontlines, responding to this pandemic, to make things easier and safer for those we serve. It is what we are called to do.”


Beginning now, telehealth services are expanding to offer secure, HIPAA-compliant video visits with primary care providers throughout CHRISTUS Physician Group locations in South and Southeast Texas served by CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, CHRISTUS Spohn and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health Systems. These video visits are available for Apple iPhone and Android users and on computers with video/audio capabilities.


“A video visit is a visit with your clinician through your computer or smart phone with video capability and is appropriate for evaluations of most any symptom you have. A telephone visit is used for those with no video capability and is a telephone call only. Either a video or telephone visit can be used for simple things such as coughs and colds, or for more complicated things such as helping manage diabetes or heart disease,” said Marisa Emmons, M.D., MHA, FAAFP, Medical Director, CHRISTUS Physician Group. “Primary care video visits are available now, and specialty visits will be coming soon.”


If a patient begins a video visit and their primary care provider determines the need for an in-person evaluation, that will be arranged. If further testing such as blood work or consultations is necessary, a referral and instructions will be provided. Both video and telephone visits are covered by nearly all major medical insurances including Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Depending on your plan, you will likely be billed a copay, just as though you were seeing your provider in a traditional office setting. For self-pay patients, video visits are $75 and telephone visits are $40.


“The new CHRISTUS Health telemedicine offerings can be used to prevent overcrowding in clinics and used in the prevention of any possible exposures. Our goal is to reduce risk and continue to facilitate high-quality care,” said Dr. Emmons.


Another CHRISTUS Health remote care technology became available on March 23. Called the COVID Health Chatbot, people can find this resource on CHRISTUSHealth.org. The COVID Health Chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) unit programmed into the CHRISTUS Health website to perform basic, automated duties, such as replying to people about their concerns surrounding COVID-19


“Just look on the right side of the screen, and you will see a yellow box. That’s our Chatbot. Patients can interact with the Chatbot through a text-chat interface on the website,” said Generale “The COVID Health Chatbot is available 24/7 and provides a screening function for patients who have any of the COVID-19 symptoms and/or have had exposure to a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.”


He added. “The goal is to alleviate stress on our hospital switchboards. We want people to be able to access valuable tools to help them self-screen for the virus and get them connected to the right place to receive care.”


“As healthcare systems adapt their procedures and we all make changes to our daily lives and routines, it is important that CHRISTUS Physician Group does everything we can to ensure patients have access to the medical care they need,” said Jennifer Beal, Chief Operating Officer, CHRISTUS Physician Group. “We are poised to do whatever it takes to continue bringing you the same seamless, compassionate care you have come to expect, while also doing everything we can to minimize the spread of infectious disease throughout the communities we serve.”


For patients who are interested in scheduling a secure video consultation, please contact your local clinic directly to check on availability and schedule an appointment or visit ChristusVirtualMedicine.org.