Itchy eyes. Runny nose. Achy muscles. It’s allergy season. Every year I can tell spring is in the air – not because of tulips emerging from their hibernation and dogwoods unfolding their pink and white petals, but because I feel like I have the flu. I. Am. Miserable. I’ve taken over-the-counter medications. Inevitably, though, the runny nose I attempt to manage with regular use of a Neti pot and packaged allergy medicine turns into a painful sinus infection.
If you’ve had frequent sinus infections, you know when it’s taken hold. There’s painful pressure, not just in your sinuses, but in your ears and your teeth. There’s the drainage that makes your throat scratchy and your voice hoarse. There’s that…mucus. And on. And on. I relate these details not to gross you out, but to say that I know when I have a sinus infection.
For years, I’ve run to my doctor, or, when it hits on the weekend, to urgent care. I’ve languished in the waiting room, hoping my name will be called. Once hailed, I’ve enumerated my symptoms, had my temperature taken and my ears, nose and throat looked at. Eventually I emerge with a prescription for steroids or antibiotics to treat the infection.
Well this year was different, not because I avoided the sinus infection, but because I signed up for telemedicine through my employer. Telemedicine is a 24/7/365 phone or video consultation with a licensed physician who can consult, diagnose and, if needed, prescribe medication for common and non-emergency illnesses.
When my symptoms got bad enough that I would have headed to urgent care, instead I was able to speak with a nurse and a doctor from the comfort of my own home. This meant:
With our plan, we can call any time to speak with a nurse. She discusses my symptoms with me and lets me know that a doctor will call within 3 hours, but my experience has been that the doctor calls me in less than 20 minutes. We discuss my symptoms, he or she asks pertinent questions, and, as in the case with my sinus infection, he calls in a prescription to my preferred pharmacy, which I’ve indicated in my online profile. I can also ask that the prescription be called in to a different pharmacy if it's more convenient to my current location.
To add to the pleasure of dealing with my telemedicine provider, a nurse calls me back after 4 hours to make sure I have gotten my issues addressed. They also call back after 72 hours to check in to see if I am getting better. If not, they’ll recommend that I go visit a doctor in person. They are thorough in their documentation and follow-up.
Here are screen shots from my phone of the follow-up on my prescription and care plan.
For minor ailments like allergies, ear infections, stomach viruses, cold and flu, and bronchitis, telemedicine is such an innovative benefit. Click here if you’d like more information about the benefits telemedicine, for employers and employees.
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