By Shari Roan
Lyn Bradley was worried about her 12-year-old son, Jack. It was a hot July Saturday afternoon and he had come home from a friend’s house in the afternoon and gone right to bed, saying he felt dizzy and nauseous. Bradley, a single mom who lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles, worried that her son had overdone it playing outside and had heat exhaustion.
"He didn't look right," she says. "He wasn't hungry. He felt clammy. I was concerned."
What to do? A single mother who does not have health insurance, Bradley weighed her options.
"If it was serious, I would have rushed him to the ER," she says. "But obviously, I didn't want to do that if I didn't have to. And I wanted something faster than urgent care."
That's when she did an internet search and found Providence Express Care Virtual, a service that offers an on-demand, virtual office visit with a nurse practitioner for minor medical concerns.
Bradley opened her tablet, signed up and within 10 minutes was looking at a Providence nurse practitioner while sitting on the bed in her son's room. The nurse talked to Jack, asked questions, had Bradley take Jack's pulse, and concluded that he was dehydrated, a less serious situation than heat sickness or heat exhaustion. She recommended lots of water and some juice, cold compresses and called in a prescription medication for Jack’s nausea.
"I was so excited to find this service," Bradley says. "I got the information I needed to make the right decision about Jack’s care. I was thrilled I didn't have to leave the house. The nurse practitioner was wonderful."
How it works
During a Providence Express Care Virtual visit, a nurse practitioner not only reviews your symptoms and health history, he or she can inspect visual symptoms, such as a rash or red eye. The nurse practitioner also will make a follow-up call two or three days after a visit to make sure you’re improving.
The cost for a visit is $39 and it’s billed directly to some insurance plans or payable by credit card or debit card. You can submit the claim to your insurance company. Coverage is not guaranteed, although more insurance companies are reimbursing for virtual visits.
Now Medicare patients can use the service as well, for a $39 out-of-pocket fee.
Support for new moms
New moms with breastfeeding challenges such as latching difficulties, painful feeding or excessive fussiness during feeding can get virtual support, too. Nurse practitioners address concerns related to mastitis, clogged milk ducts, sore nipples or questions about the quantity of milk you’re producing.
Home visits another option
Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., recently rolled out a program that allows you to receive care for minor health problems within the privacy of your home – like an old-fashioned house call.
All you need is the Providence Express Care at Home app, access to the website or the phone number to ask for care at home, in your work setting or hotel room. Visits are provided the same day by a licensed, board-certified nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner’s goal is to arrive for the visit within 90 minutes.
Use Providence Express Care at Home for conditions such as:
- Yeast infection
- Acne, skin and nail issues
- Pinkeye or sty
- Bladder infection
- Cold and coughs
- Breastfeeding problems
Home visits feel more private and there are fewer distractions. Plus, the nurse practitioner may notice any environmental factors that could play a role in an illness, such as a pet that may be causing allergy symptoms or a bath soap causing a child's rash.
The cost for a Providence Express Care at Home visit is $199. The visit is covered by many insurance plans. Medicare patients can use the service for a $199 out-of-pocket fee.
To find out more about Providence Express Care Virtual, visit virtual.providence.org. The service is available in California, Washington, Montana and Oregon.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, find out more about Providence Express Care at Home. Visit athome.providence.org.