Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a Nashville healthcare system covering nine hospitals and 48 affiliated clinics and other locations, is adding some major upgrades to its digital healthcare program.

Vanderbilt has introduced online patient reviews and ratings of its physicians. The medical center also is rolling out a new mobile healthcare program for scheduling home healthcare visits in and around Nashville.

The new service—Vanderbilt Health OnCall—lets patients ages 18-64 request an on-site visit using a free mobile app or by completing a brief online form at Vanderbilthealth.com. Vanderbilt Health OnCall providers are credentialed nurse practitioners and are available seven days a week, on a varying schedule.

Once a visit is confirmed, the nurse practitioner will arrive within two hours. Currently, four nurse practitioners are handling patient calls, with plans for additional staff as the demand increases and the coverage area expands into surrounding mid-Tennessee counties. OnCall nurses provide basic care including physical exams and diagnoses for common illnesses and injuries such as headaches, fevers, bronchitis, pneumonia, cold/flu, strep, sinus infections, diarrhea, constipation, rashes or insect bites, small lacerations and sprains/strains.

“We know that when you’re feeling under the weather, you might not want to get in a car, drive across town, and then sit in a waiting room with other people who might also be sick,” says Vanderbilt Health OnCall medical director Dr. Angela Horton. “Vanderbilt Health OnCall offers individuals the convenient option of having a same-day visit from a nurse practitioner for the treatment of a minor illness.”

When a request for a home visit request is received, a Vanderbilt intake staff member calls to confirm the information that has been provided. Then, the nurse practitioner will call to confirm the patient’s symptoms, accept the visit and let the individual requesting the service know when the nurse practitioner will arrive at the patient’s location.

An OnCall visits costs a flat fee of $99 that must be paid by credit card at the time of scheduling. Currently insurance is not accepted for payment, and the service is not available to patients who are on Medicare or Medicaid. Additional services offered include on-site lab testing such as a strep test or urine testing for a urinary tract infection at a cost of $25, and an initial dose of some oral medications for $25.

The medical record that results from a Vanderbilt Health OnCall visit is entered into StarPanel, Vanderbilt’s electronic medical record system.

In addition to a web-enabled home-visitation service, Vanderbit also in July rolled out a doctor ratings and review system after more than a year of planning and consulting with faculty on the best way to implement the ratings system. So far patients have posted 17,261 comments on 716 doctors. The average rating on a scale of 1-5 stars is 4.7, Vanderbilt says.

“The public increasingly looks to online reviews to help them make good buying decisions,” says Vanderbilt chief marketing officer Jill Austin.  “In fact, 90% of consumers say they trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. By being open and transparent about the feedback we have received from our patients, we can build trust and help others make good decisions about their healthcare.”

Patients rate doctors in areas such as friendliness, clarity of explanations and level of confidence in the provider, with scores ranging from one (“very poor”) to five (“very good”). These scores are then averaged and presented as a “star” ranking as part of each provider’s profile on the Medical Center website. A minimum of 30 ratings are required before a provider’s rating will be public, Vanderbilt says.

For its ratings, review and patient commentary web site feature Vanderbilt is using a program from Press Ganey, which develops patient satisfaction measurement and improvement products and services.

Vanderbilt performs more than 35,000 surgical procedures and see 65,000 patients in its emergency rooms annually.