The value of virtual house calls

This post was written by Gary Adkins, president, Parkview Noble Hospital.

 It’s about 1 a.m. and the fever, sore throat and cough that started the day before has gotten steadily worse. You know whatever you’ve caught isn’t life threatening, but you also know you should probably go to the urgent care clinic when it opens in about six hours and see the doctor. It has reached that point I refer to as being “down sick” – feeling bad enough that you don’t even want to get out of bed. You remember with a sinking feeling that it’s a holiday and the clinic isn’t going to be open for another 24 hours. You decide to pull the covers up and wait it out. For an adult in this situation, waiting it out may be do-able. If it’s one of your three children, it becomes another story. The emergency room is the only other option that is immediately available and you begin getting all three kids dressed and into the car.

These days, there is another option. Parkview has a new smart phone or computer app – Parkview OnDemand – that will connect you to a virtual face-to-face visit with a physician using your smartphone or computer, and the average wait time is about 10 minutes. The app is free, though each OnDemand visit has a charge of $49, by-passing the cost of an emergency room visit.

That adult described above was me, last New Year’s Eve. The difference? I picked up my cell-phone from the night stand and downloaded the Parkview OnDemand app from the App Store. The set up was easy, though it probably took longer than needed given my fever. After checking off my symptoms from a list in the app, a message told me the doctor would Face Time me in a few minutes. Within 10 minutes or less I was face to face with the doctor. He introduced himself and asked me some follow-up questions about my symptoms. He determined that it wasn’t a virus and asked me what pharmacy I would like to go to for a prescription for antibiotics. He reviewed the visit with me and made sure I didn’t have any additional questions. Start to finish the visit took about half an hour – including the one-time set up of the app. Best yet, I didn’t have to leave the house.

There are several caveats about virtual doctor visits. In emergencies such as severe injuries, symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or if other serious conditions are present, a trip to the hospital is still the right choice. If you have a broken bone or diagnostic tests or blood tests are needed, a virtual visit is not the right choice. But for non-emergent issues – poison ivy, pink eye, a fever, etc. – Parkview OnDemand and other similar products get you the care you need in less time than it takes to drive to your doctor’s office.

There is no need to be a Parkview patient – the service may be accessed by anyone age 18 or older. Add to this the convenience of accessing the OnDemand service 24/7, from anywhere within the 50 United States, and suddenly minor illnesses while you are on vacation or your child is away at school and the value of virtual health is readily apparent. For that parent of three children with only one being sick, not only is the service quick, it eliminates the risk of all three of the kids catching something from other kids in the doctor’s waiting room.

Parkview OnDemand is available for Apple or Android devices and can be used with a computer that is equipped with a camera and microphone. Visit us online here for more information or watch a video tutorial.

 

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