As the U.S. confronts the threat of COVID-19, virtual doctor visits could see a surge of interest.
Also called telemedicine or telehealth, the services started in recent years use the Internet, phone or email to let patients “see” a doctor on specific non-emergency issues without leaving home.
All the major health systems in Lancaster County offer some form of virtual visits, and some of the insurers do too.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention says in an outbreak, increased use of telehealth, for coronavirus or other patients “can reduce exposure of ill persons with staff and minimize surge on facilities.”
People interested in a specific virtual visit should check what illnesses it can be used for, and whether their insurance will cover it. Many list a flat fee that will be charged if insurance doesn’t apply.
Here’s an overview of virtual visit services offered to local residents.
[Capital BlueCross members are being offered free virtual medical visits March 13 through April 15, 2020, as part of the insurer's efforts to address COVID-19. However, it said those with coverage through an employer should check whether it's included. The service is also being offered at $59, which is a discount, to people who don't have Capital BlueCross insurance.]
- Virtual Care does visits through video chat on an app for members. It tackles medical services for common illnesses, counseling and psychiatric services and nutritional counseling.
- The insurer said many of its plans “offer members a virtual clinical visit service,” but didn’t specify which.
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health
- Penn Medicine OnDemand is “virtual urgent care” for minor illnesses and injuries in Penn Medicine patients age 14 and up via video through the MyLGHealth app.
- Lancaster General also has E-visits for certain conditions through email and sometimes phone, for patients who have visited an office recently.
Penn State Health
- Penn State Health OnDemand offers video visits on an app with doctors from Online Care Group for certain conditions.
- Video visits for follow-up appointments or flu symptoms are available through the MyPinnacleHealth patient portal via MyChart app for adults who have an established relationship with a UPMC Pinnacle physician or advanced practice provider.
- E-visits for patients age 14 and older who have an established relationship with a UPMC Pinnacle primary care provider involve completing an online questionnaire to receive a treatment plan.
[WellSpan Health's coronavirus page offers an automated online feature called "Coronavirus Assessment Tool." If you are having concerns about COVID-19, it says, "use this tool to get suggested next steps based on the most recent guidance from the CDC."]
- WellSpan Online Urgent Care offers a video visits with Teladoc physicians for patients 3 months and older with certain conditions.
- WellSpan also has a Coronavirus Information Hotline if you are concerned you or your loved one may have contracted COVID-19. You can call the new Coronavirus Information Hotline at (855) 851-3641 with questions daily from 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
If you are concerned you or your loved one may have contracted COVID-19, you can call the new Coronavirus Information Hotline at (855) 851-3641 with questions daily from 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Info on prevention, risk, when to seek care. Learn more at https://t.co/arotEKQnMZ. pic.twitter.com/DnsMV5C2JF— WellSpan Health (@WellSpan) March 19, 2020