The Joys of Telemedicine

by Kieran Pittman

When something happens, and it always does (a cold strikes, a cough gets stronger), we are forced to endure the dreaded waiting room. Whether it’s during your primary physician office hours, or after hours, the choice is to load up the afflicted and brace yourself for the all-too-familiar experience. Once there, you look around, and anxiety creeps in about all of the future ailments you might acquire with your visit. You become the crazy germaphobe! How many flu-laden children with snotty noses curled up with the same book your child is now reading during their hours of waiting time in the waiting room? Sick.

Sticking It Out Due to Inconvenience

Last weekend my 10-year-old daughter had been complaining about tooth pain. Truth be told, she told me on Friday when the dentist was closed, so I decided to ‘stick it out’ and see if it got better with time. Made total sense because tooth pain always “just gets better with time”, right?  By Sunday morning her left cheek was swollen all the way up to her eye. I freaked out.

On Sunday my options were the ER or the Urgent Care Clinic. Last time I went to the Urgent Clinic for my daughter’s ear infection, I was waiting seemingly all night while a parade of more urgent matters marched back before us as if my daughter and her ear infection were invisible. The next week I came down with an awful cold and worked through the days hopped up on some kind of cold medication. Was I eager to sign myself up for that again? Not exactly.

Enter Telemedicine

That’s when I remembered that at my company, BeniComp, we had unlimited telemedicine through MDLive. We are rolling this unlimited service out to our clients as well, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to test out our service. I have a live one!  

I searched for the welcome email and attempted to log in. Of course, I forgot the password I had previously set and it prompted me to get another. Within minutes I was setting an appointment from my laptop, with my daughter curiously looking over my shoulder, both of us in our pajamas.

I gave a quick synopsis of her symptoms through the prompts on the screen and scheduled an appointment. Within the hour, they said, we would be seen by a doctor. They prompted me to test the camera and mic on the laptop, and all was in order. I went about doing my business. Only minutes later I was halfway through loading the dishwasher when the text came in, “Your doctor is ready to see you now.” I frantically put a brush through my hair and called my daughter into the kitchen where we stood at the counter and allowed the doctor to appear on our screen with a smile. Not only was he a doc, but a pediatric ER doc. Yes, that is who I would like to see my child, how did you know? How did they know, though, for real?

The doctor introduced himself and mainly conversed with my daughter who, to my surprise, perked up and detailed her pain. We then went through some tests: push here, tap there, describe the way this looks to me.

The Diagnosis: An abscessed tooth.

The Solution: An antibiotic that the doctor called in to our local pharmacy.  

How did he know where we wanted to pick it up? I must have set that up at the beginning or something. He gave us the reasons we should call him back: fever, more swelling, fatigue. He also sent me a message so that I could simply reply back if I had questions. He must know moms well.

This Was Almost Pleasant

I realized as I finished loading the dishwasher after the call that I just had a more effective doctor appointment from my kitchen in my pj’s with a 10 minute wait in my home. My husband was already back from the pharmacy with the meds, my daughter had taken her first dose, and it was all within the hour and free to me!  This wasn’t the dreaded revolving waiting room that is the Urgent Care Clinic, this was almost pleasant. I saved an estimated $200 just by applying a different method of care from the comfort of my own home.

When something strikes, don’t panic and rush to the waiting room.  Avoid the hassle; pick up your laptop, tablet, or smartphone; and access telemedicine.  Then think about who told you and drop me a line. I’d love to hear about your experience.