It’s 10:00 PM on a Saturday night. You suddenly start feeling achy. You’re cold and grab a blanket to warm up. Then you realize you’re running a fever. You look over at your husband and say, “Oh no. I’m sick! Is it the flu? I felt fine earlier! Ugh, I can’t even see a doctor until Monday. And I’m not even sure what I can take since I’m breastfeeding! What do I do?”
Sound familiar? This exact scenario happened to me two years ago, when Aren was a baby. Unfortunately, I was unaware of virtual health care at the time and had to wait until Monday to find out I had my first experience with mastitis. It seems that neither my kids nor I get sick at a convenient time (if there even is such a thing), but sometimes finding a way to go to the doctor’s office feels almost impossible! Thankfully, UCHealth now offers Virtual Visit to make access to healthcare easier, faster, convenient, and more affordable than ER options.
What is a Virtual Visit?
UCHealth introduced a service called Virtual Visit – similar to a video conference or video call – as a way to expand health care options in Colorado. Patients can use a smartphone or tablet app, or log in on their computer, to make an appointment to speak with a provider about illnesses such as allergies, cold/flu, pink eye, sore throat, and vomiting – just to name a few. By seeing or speaking with a doctor via a camera-enabled device such as a smartphone or computer, the patient can ask questions and get medical advice without ever leaving home.
With a Virtual Visit, providers can look at a concerning rash, listen to a cough, or check out a burning pink eye. They can answer questions on what to do about a sore throat or urinary tract infection. They can even help when your little one starts throwing up in the middle of the night – as long as a legal guardian is present during the visit.
A Virtual Visit is a great option in various situations when going to a doctor’s office isn’t convenient – such as when a mom has multiple children and doesn’t have anyone to care for them while she goes to the doctor. Or when one car is in the shop and dad took the other car to work. When a bomb cyclone hits and neighborhood roads aren’t plowed, virtual health care keeps you comfortable in your home while still getting medical attention.
It’s also a more affordable option for some patients than an in-office visit. Virtual Visit can be billed to your insurance, or can be paid at a flat rate of only $49. Compared to the cost of some out-of-pocket expenses related to an in office doctor visit, it may help some patients to get care when they would otherwise go without.
No driving, no tending to sick kids in the waiting room (or taking kids along when YOU are sick), and affordable? It’s a great alternative when you need medical care for minor illnesses!
What a Virtual Visit Can’t Do
Because the Virtual Visit is over the phone or computer, providers are unable to do examinations that require labs or hands-on treatment. If you need X-rays or a blood draw, you will need to be seen in an office for those services. Not sure if your concern can be helped with a Virtual Visit or not? You can fill out the request for a Virtual Visit and a medical professional will help determine your best option for care.
A Virtual Visit is never ok for serious emergencies such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or severe abdominal pain. Go to the nearest emergency care facility for immediate care in those situations.
How to Get Started
Create an account or log into your UCHealth account on the Virtual Visit webpage. From there, you will answer a series of questions about yourself and your symptoms. You’ll also choose an appointment time (for example, on a Sunday evening you may see appointments available every 20 minutes for the remainder of the night).
You do need a computer or tablet with a working camera, speakers and microphone or a smartphone. If using your smartphone or tablet, I recommend downloading the UCHealth app to easily navigate the Virtual Visit system.
It’s also important to get regular checkups to stay healthy! Check with your doctor for a recommended schedule for wellness exams and health screenings that meet your personal health care needs.
Have you ever used a Virtual Visit for healthcare? I’d love to hear about your experience in a comment below!