An online doctor consultation is now a reality
Have you ever thought that all the calls waiting and added stress involved in going to the doctor can be a headache of its own - especially when you just have a question need a referral or a refill or are just not feeling well? It would be so much easier if you could just tap a smartphone app wherever you are and have an online doctor consultation when you're unsure about a cut or a burn or a cough. This is now possible through a practice called telemedicine.
Online doctor consultations are here
Virtual visits or having a video doctor visit over the Internet has become a reality. According to the American Telemedicine Association more than half of U.S. hospitals are currently employing some form of telemedicine. A video doctor appointment on your phone or tablet is just like FaceTiming your sister or using Skype for a business meeting - a convenient more affordable alternative to face-to-face appointments.
Virtual Visits for urgent care
Within its Telemedicine offerings Reid Health offers virtual visits for urgent care which means you may be able to avoid a trip to the doctor's office for many typical urgent care needs. You may already know that urgent care centers are one of the easiest alternatives to the emergency room for nonemergency situations and after-hours visits but they are typically also a more cost-effective solution. For example according to a chart on Debt.org a visit to the ER for allergies cost $345 on average in 2010 and only $97 at an urgent care center.
In fact Reid Health currently offers the ReidHealthNOW app for virtual urgent care visits. The app gives you access to a video doctor consultation for urgent care - whether you are currently a Reid Health patient or not. The cost is a flat rate of $49 per visit paid when you initiate the online appointment.
Of course the decision is not merely a question of cost. The distinction between life-threatening symptoms and ailments you could consult an online doctor or urgent care center for is vital to understand. Here are some examples of each.
When you could use an online doctor consultation for urgent care
- You get stung by a wasp and want to ask if the sting looks normal and how to reduce swelling and pain.
- You get a nasty cut and want to see if you need stitches.
- You've got an annoying rash or weird hives and want to know how to soothe the itching and what to do if it gets worse.
- You have an earache and want to know whether you need a prescription for antibiotics.
- You've got a muscle strain or sprain that hurts and want to know how to treat it whether you need an X-ray and how you can keep it supported and help it heal.
- You've got a nagging sore throat cough nausea vomiting or diarrhea and you're wondering how you can help it subside faster.
When to head to the emergency room
- You're having severe breathing difficulty.
- You have chest pains.
- You're bleeding uncontrollably.
- Someone has suddenly inexplicably lost consciousness.
- You or a child has a high fever.
- You suspect you've ingested something poisonous.
- Someone has incurred a head injury that is accompanied by unconsciousness vomiting or abnormal behavior.
- You've had a neck or spine injury.
- Someone suddenly cannot speak see or move.
- You're coughing up or vomiting blood.
How to use online doctor consultations
Many insurers cover at least some telehealth services and many more are currently expanding their telehealth coverage. Check your health insurance benefit summary or call your insurer to find out how telehealth services are covered on your plan.
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