PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Would you prefer to see a doctor in person or by computer?
“If it was something simple, that I felt could be answered over the phone or online, I’d definitely do that rather than drive all the way to the doctor’s office,” says one woman.
“Especially with my job and having my kid also, not getting time off, then yes, I would definitely utilize the online doctor,” says another.
“If you could go online and get something quick for a cold or something, that’s fine. If it was something bigger, no,” says one man.
Fifteen months ago, UPMC launched AnywhereCare.com, a website that you can use for an electronic visit. So far, 4,000 visits, most commonly respiratory complaints, like bronchitis, sinusitis, and colds.
For adults, conditions like back pain, birth control, colds and flu, diarrhea, and shingles. For kids three years and older, cough cold and pink eye.
You fill out a questionnaire and a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner will send back a diagnosis and care plan, usually within 30 minutes. But you have to be in Pennsylvania.
Heather Meyers used it for a bout of sinusitis.
“They actually sent my prescription directly to my 24-hour pharmacy,” she says,
If more information is needed, a video consult or secure messaging might be part of the interaction.
For a video consult, you would need a computer or tablet with a camera and microphone. And for pediatric patients, the parent or guardian has to be present.
The visit costs $38, paid at the time of the visit, so it can’t be cancelled once you’ve submitted.
“We have to assume the patient is being honest,” says Dr. Richard Heath, an emergency department physician at UPMC who reviews the online visits. “We have to make that assumption. “
You would not want to use this for long-term health issues or medical emergencies.
“Chest pain would be an obvious one. Someone who suspects they may have a broken bone,” Dr. Heath elaborates.