Imagine receiving health care without leaving your couch. That's virtual care, which connects patients to care providers 24/7 via phones, tablets and computers. The technology may be virtual, but it's real medicine for minor illnesses. And for these three patients, CHI Health Virtual Care made all the difference.
A Voice of Reason
Days after being diagnosed with diabetes, Alycia Parker started feeling tired and "just really loopy," she said. "I just kept feeling worse and worse."
Parker had used CHI Health Virtual Care for her kids' minor illnesses and decided to try it for herself. The call back within 15 minutes didn't surprise her, nor did the ease of speaking face to face with a care provider via FaceTime - that's how it worked for her before. What surprised Parker was the care provider's response.
"She said don't wait, go in to the emergency room," Parker said. "And she called the hospital so they would be waiting for me."
What Parker didn't realize was her blood sugar was very high - in the 400s - and she was suffering with ketoacidosis, a buildup of acids in the blood. "I was headed toward going into a diabetic coma," she said.
After a little over a day as an inpatient at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy, Parker was back home and feeling much better. Since then she's become a regular at diabetic education and nutrition sessions at CHI Health.
Parker is thankful for the care she received - especially those crucial minutes on FaceTime with a virtual care provider.
"That was worth its weight in gold. If it was just me, I would have waited it out. But she kind of pushed me to go in. She felt like it was urgent enough," Parker said. "I was glad to have that voice of reason."
A Not-So-Textbook Case
Joe Marinkovich was facing an itchy, uncomfortable weekend. A rash had popped up out of the blue on his legs spread overnight to his torso and chest.
He'd seen a physician assistant the day before, who instructed Marinkovich to treat it with over-the-counter ointments and return if the rash got worse. Now it was Saturday, the clinic was closed, and the rash was increasingly uncomfortable.
During a trip to the pharmacy for Benadryl and cortisone cream, the pharmacist took a look and was convinced the rash was actually shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful rash. "A textbook case is what he said. It definitely hurt to touch," Marinkovich said.
For a second opinion - and the sooner the better - he decided to try CHI Health Virtual Care for the first time. After signing up online, he waited around 15 minutes for a provider to call him back.
"It's all relative because when you're itching like crazy, it can seem like forever," he said. "But it really wasn't that long.
The two talked via FaceTime, and the virtual care provider asked Marinkovich to take and send him some pictures to confirm the diagnosis. The mystery rash turned out to be a case of folliculitis, a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed.
"I don't think it normally gets that bad," Marinkovich. "But after taking the antibiotic, it felt better right away and within two days the swelling went down."
CHI Health Virtual Care saved his weekend.
"For me, it's still nice to go in and see someone in an office, but for situations like this, Virtual Care would definitely be on my radar," Marinkovich said. "It was definitely super convenient. I would recommend it and use it again."
Her Go-To Option
At 8 p.m. on a weekday evening, DeAnna Crossley noticed the telltale signs of a urinary tract infection.
Her first thought: "I just want some relief." It wasn't her first UTI, so she knew the discomfort would make for a restless night.
Her second thought: "I can't take more time off work." Crossley works 12-hour shifts, so getting into the doctor's office can be a challenge.
Her third thought led to a solution: "I'd used Virtual Care before, and I had a good experience," she said.
So Crossley logged onto her computer and connected with CHI Health Virtual Care. Just 15 minutes after entering her information on the website, she was on the phone with a primary care provider.
"They called back and asked what's going on with me and what symptoms I was having," she said. "They definitely listen to you."
After reviewing her health history and symptoms, her Virtual Care provider diagnosed the urinary tract infection and called in a prescription.
"It saved me a whole lot of time. I was on the phone maybe for five or 10 minutes," she said. "It was a longer wait at the pharmacy than it was to get the diagnosis."
It was also an affordable option.
"This cost me $10 for the Virtual Care visit and 91 cents for the prescription," Crossley said. "It's an excellent way to get health care."
Crossley calls Virtual Care a go-to option for minor medical issues.
"Now that they have me on record, it's even easier," she said. "You just get online and put in what's going on with you. Both times they called back within 15 minutes. It's affordable and it's very convenient."
CHI Health Virtual Care is available 24/7 for only $10. Get care now.