In honor of Back to School time, here’s a Pop Quiz (I promise no math problems about two trains leaving the station at different times).
QUESTION: Your daughter comes home from a sleepover on Sunday afternoon and complains of a sore throat. You take her temp and it’s 101.9. Do you..
- Wait it out (and watch her get sicker by the hour)
- Take her to an urgent care center
- Take her to an ER
- Have a doctor call you at home for a consult
Wait a minute. Have a doctor call you at home? Is that a trick question? Dang it, I hate multiple choice questions! No, D is actually the right answer if you have a telehealth service at your fingertips.
I know what your thinking. How can a doctor know what’s wrong with you (or your child) by talking to you on the phone (click here to learn more)? Well, a few short years ago, doctors were “on-call” nights and weekends, calling patients who needed help with medical issues that couldn’t wait until the office reopened. Today, when you call your doctor’s office after hours, you get a recording telling you the office is closed and “if this is an emergency, dial 911.”
Telehealth to the rescue! I have this service and I’m sharing three ways it saved my family time, money and frustration!
1) That Pop Quiz question actually happened to me. My daughter came down with a sore throat and fever very quickly one Sunday afternoon. Now, my sweet girl is one of the healthiest kids on earth, but for some reason, she’s very susceptible to strep throat. I used to bundle her up and take her to the local Urgent Care center for a strep test (to confirm what I already knew) and pay a $50 copay. Not this time! I called my telehealth provider and set up a consult. Within 10 minutes, a pediatrician was on the phone with me. After talking through her symptoms, the doctor diagnosed strep and had a prescription sent to the pharmacy around the corner. Instead of paying $50, we only paid $5.00 for the Rx. My daughter was pretty darn happy she didn’t have to leave the house (or even her bed) to get help and relief.
2) We live in Dallas and occasionally experience crippling ice storms. One year, we had a doozy (which we affectionately dubbed “IceMaggedon 2013,” “Ice-pocalypse,” “Ice-apalooza” and even “Sleetnado!”) that shut down the entire city. Of course this would be the time my son woke up with all the signs of the flu. The pediatrician’s office was closed and did I mention there was some ice on the roads? So, I set up a consult with my trusty telehealth service. The doctor listened to my son’s symptoms and told us, “Yep, it’s the flu”. Instead of driving to the Urgent Care Center or ER, waiting to be seen (hoping we didn’t catch anything from the other waiting room patients and their lurking germs), stopping for a Tamiflu pick-up at the pharmacy - my husband drove to the pharmacy (carefully) and picked up the Rx. It was a relief not to drag my son all around town while trying to navigate the icy roads.
3) This one is a bit gross (you’ve been duly warned). After a very long night of vomiting that just would NOT stop, my husband and I were on the fence about whether or not I should go to the ER. It was too early in the morning to reach my own doctor, so I had a consult with my telehealth service. The doctor listened and then gave some great advice on how to manage my symptoms. He told me to go to the ER only if they didn’t resolve or got worse. I didn’t need a prescription this time. Solid advice, fluids, rest and over the counter meds did the trick. Talking to a doctor this way saved us the copay, time sitting in an ER waiting room (while feeling so sickly) and it gave us peace of mind we were on the right track. This also saved us a potential HUGE medical bill (as you may know, ER trips are a little spendy these days!).
Am I a fan of telehealth? Yes! Note that this service doesn’t work for everything or replace my family doctor (click herefor more on that), but it’s there for us when our doctors aren’t available. 70% of medical issues can be handled this way, and it’s 100% right for me and my family.
Now it’s your turn to tell your story! Has telehealth helped you? Do you have questions? Comment below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.