When COVID -19 cases began rising at an alarming rate in 2020, virtual urgent care became an increasingly important part of healthcare. Since then, it has evolved as a routine way to get care for common illnesses like colds, sinus infections, pink eye, some urinary tract infections, and yes even COVID. It is not for serious medical emergencies like strokes or heart attacks.
Advantages of Virtual Urgent Care
It is a great option when you:
- Don’t want to spread infection.
- Feel sick and don’t want to leave the house.
- Have young children at home and no babysitter.
- Have difficulty getting transportation.
- Have a compromised immune system and don’t want to be around other people.
Disadvantages of Virtual Urgent Care
- Your healthcare provider can’t do an in-person physical exam or assessment of vital signs so the virtual visit can’t be used for problems like ear infections, severe abdominal pain, chest pain, or certain respiratory issues.
- It is also unsuitable for conditions that require X-rays or tests for diagnosis such as strep throat or diabetes.
Preparing for Your Appointment
- You will need strong internet or mobile phone service, a working camera on your computer, tablet or phone, and good sound.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you need accommodations such as an interpreter.
- Read all instructions emailed to you ahead of the visit.
Can I get a prescription as part of the virtual visit?
Yes. The healthcare providers who handle virtual urgent care appointments are physician assistants, physicians, or nurse practitioners who can prescribe common drugs such as antibiotics or cough medicine. This program is not for refilling medications you take every day, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol medications. Controlled substances or narcotics will also not be prescribed over a virtual visit.
Does insurance cover virtual care visits?
Most private health insurance policies and Medicare now cover virtual care or telehealth visits. It is best to check your policy.