Flu season is in full swing across the country and is only expected to get worse here in the Valley. But trudging to your doctor's office is probably the last thing you'll want to do.
Which is part of what has Valley patients turning to virtual visits to their doctors.
Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. James Kravec said, "If it's influenza or a cold this time of year then that's a great opportunity to use telehealth."
Telehealth, e-visit, or virtual visit. They may go by many names, but basically, they are a way to communicate and visit with a doctor, without going into the office.
"As long as its something, a medical illness that can be treated through an electronic visit- it saves the patient from having to go to a primary care office or to an urgent care or emergency room. And also it saves that patient time. It saves them from having to be exposed to other patients or expose other patients. And it really is good for busy primary care offices who can still treat the patient but not have that patient come into the office," said Dr. Kravec.
For existing Mercy Health patients, it's as simple as logging on to the internet, go to mercy.com and visit the MyChart tab, from there you'll be able to schedule your e-visit.
Patients need to enter their symptoms into a symptom checklist.
"If someone is having trouble breathing and having chest pain or other symptoms or they're having other chronic medical conditions, they're not really who should use this- they should be seeing their provider," explained Dr. Kravec.
"So say for example someone put chest pains as a symptom, the computer would tell them they need to go to the emergency room or call 911 or call their doctor," Dr. Kravec said.
So when can patients turn to e-visits?
Dr. Kravec explained, saying, "Most commonly we see urinary tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, flu-like symptoms as the most common communication between physicians and patients."
"Its the simple things with very little risk of harm, it's more the nuisance symptoms," he said.
And as things like rashes come up, the technology even lets you upload pictures.
Then you can sit back and relax until the doctor gets back to you.
"A physician will get back to you within a period of time, usually less than an hour and you can communicate back with your physician," said Dr. Kravec.
While you're on the MyChart portal though, you can also view lab results, schedule follow-ups, and send quick messages to your doctor.
It's help from a doctor at the tip of your fingers- without ever leaving home.
There are dozens of Mercy Health doctors int he Valley who participate in the e-visit technology. TO see if your doctor is included, head to mercy.com, select "Find a Doctor" and look to see if your doctor is MercyHealth.