There are a number of problems within the American healthcare industry, ranging from a shortage of doctors to the high cost of medical care. However, one of the most prevalent issues is the sizable amount of patients who need treatment: these people can overwhelm local doctors offices and hospitals, straining available resources and budgets. To solve this, many communities have opened urgent care centers, medical walk in clinics designed to treat non-life-threatening medical conditions. These facilities offer after hours urgent care services at a low price, making them affordable, convenient and appealing. As a result, urgent care facilities can often successfully reduce patient volumes at other medical centers in the area. However, urgent care clinics aren’t done innovating: some of these centers are beginning to move into the new field of virtual medicine to further benefit their patients.
While its fairly normal to head to a doctor’s office or urgent care center for a quick check up, patients can now seek treatment for minor medical problems over their webcam from the comfort of their own home. Patients simply enter some basic information into the clinic’s website and begin a video call with an urgent medical care professional. The calls typically last about 30 minutes and costs $35, a price that isn’t covered by insurance. However, almost all of the normal functions of a doctor are made available online, including prescribing and receiving prescriptions.
Many patients and urgent care centers are excited about the possibilities “telemedicine” and virtual urgent care offer; meanwhile, other doctors have warned that the service should only be used for minor conditions, like pink eye, rashes, and cold symptoms. In the event of anything more serious, patients should instead to their nearest after hours urgent care center or hospital for treatment. Fortunately, virtual urgent care clinics are working to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis by scheduling follow up calls and working closely with patients’ primary care physicians. Could this service be the future of medical care? Only time will tell. Helpful links.