The next time you’re sitting at home and feeling the telltale symptoms of a cold—stuffy and runny nose, scratchy throat or watery eyes—instead of heading to the Walk-In Center, consider turning to your phone or computer. The recently launched UHS Virtual Walk-In Program allows anyone to have appointments with UHS providers over the internet in real time.
“After answering a few questions online, patients will confer with local walk-in providers,” says Anthony Consolazio, MD, lead physician of UHS Walk-In Centers and one of the providers participating in the program at UHS Vestal Walk-In. “We review the patient’s electronic health record and then enter into a video conference with them, which works on any internet-connected device with a camera, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.”
Advantages of Access
Dr. Consolazio explains that the Virtual Walk-In Program provides several benefits for members of the UHS community, whether they are current patients or have never visited a UHS location. Not only is it a convenient way to get checked for the types of problems seen at a Walk-In Center—including colds, flu, rashes and pink eye—but it also means you don’t have to sit in the waiting room with other patients, being potentially exposed to their illnesses.
“It improves access because the prevalence of connected smartphones or other devices is relatively high, and for a lot of folks it’s higher than the prevalence of easy transportation,” says Dr. Consolazio. “It also makes us more efficient because we don’t have to have open rooms for patients. Once we’re done with a Virtual Walk-In patient we can see the next patient with a few clicks.”
The UHS Way
According to Dr. Consolazio, possibly the most important aspect of the UHS Virtual Walk-In Program is that the providers you conference with are UHS providers, rather than the third-party unaffiliated doctors that some virtual care systems use. And for current UHS patients, providers can also access a patient’s electronic health record and the virtual visit will become a part of that permanent record.
“Unlike many services, you’re seeing actual local UHS providers,” says Dr. Consolazio. “Because of this, if the provider deems the patient’s issue is more serious and an in-person visit is necessary, the patient can come in to see that same provider—or visit their local UHS Walk-In Center which can receive the information from the virtual visit.”
And Dr. Consolazio also emphasizes that whether patients are seen virtually or in person, they receive the same treatment. Patients who use the Virtual Walk-In Program will not only receive instructions and contact information for follow-up questions or care, but they can also be prescribed medicine virtually, just as if they were there in person.
CHECK IT OUT
The UHS Virtual Walk-In Program recently launched. Visit nyuhs.zipnosis.com to take a look, or to see a UHS provider now if you’re feeling ill.