When to choose online care
From paying bills to ordering takeout, it seems like you can do almost anything online these days, and that includes getting health care. But when is it appropriate to seek online care? Doris Best, MD, offered some advice.
What types of illnesses can be treated online?
While you should always call 911 for a medical emergency, many common conditions can be treated online, including:
- Cough, cold or flu
- Eye pain, eye bump or irritation
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Migraine or headache
- Mouth sores
- Rashes and other skin conditions
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) exposure
- Sinus pain or pressure
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Women’s health issues such as mastitis and yeast infection
How can you diagnose a UTI without a lab test?
Dr. Best said these illnesses can be diagnosed without a lab test because patients are asked very detailed questions about their symptoms and medical history, similar to what you would be asked in an office. Sometimes your provider might recommend that you make an appointment for an in-person visit, but in many cases that’s not necessary for uncomplicated health issues.
When should you choose online care and when should you see a doctor in person?
“While you can’t use online care for every illness, it’s a great option, particularly during the pandemic,” said Dr. Best. “You can use it if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have a health concern and want to avoid exposure to the virus.”
She said it’s also a great option for times when your schedule or location doesn’t allow for an office visit, like during a busy day or when traveling for vacation.
“Online care can be used to address patients’ concerns quickly and safely,” said Dr. Best.
How can you receive care online?
Dr. Best said many doctors offer video visits, allowing you to see and talk to your provider in real time. You can also choose a service that doesn’t use video.
“Prisma Health offers E-Visit as part of their virtual care offerings,” said Dr. Best. “You simply answer a series of questions that describe your symptoms. A health care provider then electronically reviews your symptoms to make a diagnosis and suggests a care plan. It’s easier than ever to access the care you need from your computer or mobile device.”
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