Doctors urge video visits for patients with flu

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Doctors at Spectrum Health are urging people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to use a video visit instead of making a trip to the emergency room or urgent care.

Several West Michigan hospitals are asking people to limit visits to their facilities, which have become a breeding ground for illness.

Video visits, such as MedNow provided through Spectrum Health, are quickly gaining popularity. MedNow recently hit an all-time high for seeing patients — 100 people used the telehealth program in one day, compared to the normal 70 to 80 people a day.

MedNow is a telehealth program through Spectrum Health. A cellphone or computer with a webcam is needed to take part in a video visit. Once your visit is scheduled, an email will be sent with instructions on how to connect online.

Lead physician assistant at MedNow Elizabeth Suing said there are many pros to the service.

“You avoid drive time, you avoid sitting in a waiting room and you avoid the high cost of the emergency room or urgent care,” Suing said.

Patients who use the video visit MedNow will never pay more than $45 for a visit, if your insurance doesn’t already cover the cost. Suing said another plus to the online visit is that it doesn’t take long to schedule an appointment.

“We could probably see you in five minutes,” said Suing. “You kind of have the availability to schedule whenever works for you.”

Once the patient is connected to a medical professional, a conversation is had regarding symptoms. Next comes a physical examination. The medical professional will walk the patient through a self-examination. A few examples of testing for the flu include tugging on ears checking for pain, checking sinuses, enlarged lymph nodes, grabbing a flashlight and holding it up to your mouth to show your throat.

Photo: A screenshot of the MedNow mobile app.

Prescriptions for the flu can be provided through a video visit, if needed.

24 Hour News 8 also asked Suing if a video visit was just as effective as seeing the doctor in-person. The online visit is just as effective, and if the medical professional thinks your symptoms are more severe or that you need an in-person visit you will be escalated on. If you are told to schedule a visit to the doctor or go to the emergency room, the video visit will be free of charge.

“If you feel like, you know, I’m starting to get kind of dehydrated. I haven’t been able to keep fluids down. I’m coughing up a bunch of stuff. I feel short of breath sitting here, wheezing. By all means, the emergency room is still an option,” said Suing.

MedNow treats patients three years or older. Patients must be in Michigan to be treated. MedNow patients do not have to have a Spectrum Health primary care physician to use the service.

Top conditions treated through MedNow include cold, flu, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, ear aches, fever, headaches, heartburn, pink eye, rashes, hives, sprains and strains, urinary problems and sinus problems.

To schedule a visit, call 844-322-7374 or download the MedNow app.