What You Need to Know About Virtual Urgent Care

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A patient talking to a doctor using digital tablet

Virtual urgent care can be the right care environment if you have a minor to moderate medical problem that can be solved without visiting an urgent care or emergency room. It can also save you significant time and expense.

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a virtual visit – also called telehealth – is the best route to go, or whether you or a loved one should be seen in person by a doctor.

Virtual urgent care visits are appropriate for many conditions, including colds, flu, allergies, skin conditions, diarrhea, vomiting, sinus pain, sore throat and urinary tract infections.

Other times, it’s a starting point to getting the care you need, says Brian Zack, MD, medical director for UH Telehealth. In some cases, patients may still be advised to see a provider in person.

“Patients should have the right expectations of a virtual exam,” Dr. Zack says. “We can take care of a lot of things virtually, but it’s about getting you the best care possible in the best site of care possible.”

Dr. Zack’s tips for using virtual urgent care:

  • Before starting a virtual visit, make sure you’re in a private, quiet, well-lit place (don’t try a virtual visit from a moving car).
  • Earbuds may be helpful.
  • Have a flashlight handy in case the doctor wants to look down your throat.
  • UH virtual urgent care doctors will have access to your UH medical records and your primary care provider will be able to access your virtual urgent care visit.
  • Virtual urgent care doctors can order lab work or X-rays, and send prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy if appropriate.
  • Many commercial insurance plans cover virtual urgent care visits or allow you to submit it to a Health Savings Account.
  • For problems such as chest discomfort, breathing difficulty or traumatic injury, go to an emergency room.
  • People with chronic conditions / underlying health problems such as heart or lung disease should be seen in person if they’re having problems related to the illness. “If you think your complaint requires a significant physical exam, you should be seen by a doctor,” Dr. Zack says.

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With UH Virtual Urgent Care, you can see a UH provider and get the medical care you need, when you need it, right from the comfort and safety of your own home. All you need to begin your virtual urgent care visit is a computer, tablet or smartphone, a high-speed internet connection and your driver’s license. Learn more about these services at UH.

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