Virtual Care: What It Is and When You Should Use It

Virtual Care: What It Is and When You Should Use It

Jan 06 2020

What do you do if you’re sick and can’t make it to your regular doctor? Try a virtual visit.

If you’re feeling unwell but your regular doctor isn’t an option, know that you have another option besides the emergency room or urgent care for nonemergency issues.

So what exactly is virtual care?

Medical professionals practice much of today’s care with a smart phone or tablet, through video or even by email. We call this virtual care. Many users love virtual care because it’s quick. There’s no wait time, you simply use your computer, phone or other device to either chat, email or video conference a licensed medical professional. They can make a diagnosis and write prescriptions in a matter of minutes. These medical professionals are the same doctors you’d find in your doctor’s office. They can often diagnose illnesses based on your symptoms alone. Without needing to see you in person.

How do I access virtual care?

You can access through MD Live, Teladoc, LiveHealth Online or through the Priority Health app. Virtual visits offer you care anytime, anywhere, without ever having to leave your bed or couch.

What if I want to see a doctor in person?

You can still see your regular doctor. Virtual care, like the ER or urgent care, is another option for you to use if you want it. Getting care virtually is no different than seeing a doctor in person. Virtual care providers are licensed medical professionals and, like your doctor you see in person. They can make a diagnosis and write prescriptions.

Is virtual care right for me?

Virtual visits are ideal for nights, weekends, holidays. Or when you can’t get to your regular doctor’s office and need medical care. They’re a great option if you’re without access to care and can’t get in to see your regular doctor right away. Or you live in a remote area, or travel frequently. It’s not the right option when you or a loved one needs an X-ray or lab work.

So how do you know when to visit the emergency room or urgent care and which are appropriate for your regular doctor or virtual care? Just follow these guidelines:

Virtual care

The next time you experience any of the following symptoms and can’t see your doctor right away try virtual care.

It’s a great option for:

  • Allergies, bites and stings
  • Sore throat, fever and headache
  • Cold, cough and flu
  • Diarrhea and heartburn
  • Earache
  • Pink eye, rashes and hives

Urgent care

If you have a non-life-threatening condition that can’t wait for a doctor visit, go to an urgent care center. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Minor broken bones and fractures in fingers or toes
  • Sprains and strains
  • Severe sore throat or cough
  • Stomachache
  • Urinary tract infections

Emergency room

The emergency room is designed to treat those who need immediate care and cannot wait for a doctor appointment. People who visit the ER are experiencing serious, hazardous, harmful and potentially fatal conditions such as:

  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Pain in the chest or one arm
  • Poisoning or drug overdose
  • Seizure or slurred speech
  • Major broken bones

If you or a loved one is experiencing an emergency, visit your ER for services. And, if you can’t get to the ER, call 911 immediately.

The next time you’re faced nonemergency illness and can’t get in to see your doctor, try virtual care for a quick and easy alternative to the ER or urgent care. Check with your doctor’s office to see if they provide virtual care. Or download our app and log in to your Priority Health member account to access virtual care options like Spectrum Health Now.