Virtual care increases during flu season

Patients with flu-like symptoms can see a provider without leaving home

Norton eCare visits have more than doubled since October when flu season began. Norton eCare offers two types of “virtual care” — eVisit and video visit.

“We’re seeing a lot of patients right now who have flu-like symptoms,” said Rachel Alexander, APRN, Norton eCare. “But we’re also seeing many other patients with health concerns who want to avoid going to an office and being exposed to the flu.”

Virtual care has been offered nationally for several years but started gaining momentum recently with people wanting to receive care at a time and location convenient for them. Norton Healthcare developed the Norton eCare service in late 2016 to offer access to a provider anytime, anywhere for nonurgent health concerns.

For an eVisit, patients complete an online questionnaire about their symptoms any time of the day or night. Within four to six hours, a nurse practitioner calls the patient by phone to discuss a treatment plan. Video visits are scheduled face-to-face visits from a mobile device or computer. Video visits are available for adults and children 2 years and older, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And yes, flu-like symptoms can be evaluated with either service, though video visits are preferred.

“Some specific symptoms of the flu can help us diagnose a patient,” Alexander said. “These include fever, aches and chills, plus oftentimes known exposure to the flu.

“If we’re concerned because someone has had a fever for multiple days, has bad chest congestion or other chronic health conditions, an in-person visit may be needed. In that case, we may refer to a primary care provider, Norton Immediate Care Center or even an emergency department, with no cost for our eVisit or video visit.”

Visits are $40 each and are not billed to insurance unless there is an agreed-upon benefit under your insurance plan.


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