The night before Jessica Ennis was flying to a wedding in Tennessee, she started getting symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
“Oh my gosh,” she thought to herself. “What am I going to do?”
Not getting treatment right away would make for a lousy trip and could lead to an even more serious infection.
- Get care from anywhere in Colorado.
- Available 24/7.
- See a pro. A UCHealth provider will assist you.
- No health insurance required: $49 flat fee without insurance.
- You don’t need to be a UCHealth patient.
- What you’ll need: a computer, tablet or a smart phone.
- Visits are private and protect patient confidentiality.
- Not for serious injuries or emergencies. Not for opioid prescriptions.
- Conditions treated:
- colds and flu
- pink eye
- sinus infections
- sore throats
- urinary tract infections
- vomiting and diarrhea.
- Easy with My Health Connection App.
- Learn more about Virtual Urgent Care.
Ennis woke up the next morning and started brainstorming about how to get medical help before she needed to catch her plane.
Then, she remembered that UCHealth offers video chats with providers called Virtual Urgent Care.
Ennis hopped on to her My Health Connection app, scheduled a visit for late morning and video chatted with a doctor as her husband drove her to the airport.
“It was a huge lifesaver. I couldn’t have gotten in at my doctor in time,” Ennis said.
She said she loved both the care and the convenience.
“They were so amazing. I got to see the doctor’s face. He saw me. He asked all the important, clarifying questions. He wanted to be sure I didn’t have a fever and that it wasn’t a kidney infection or gall stones,” she said.
Because the March bomb cyclone storm had hit the day before, Ennis’ original flight into Knoxville, Tennessee to meet up with her mom was canceled and she was only able to rebook a flight that landed in Huntsville, Alabama. Once she arrived, she found a Kroger grocery store, which is affiliated with King Soopers, where she normally gets her prescriptions filled in Colorado. Ennis stopped at the first Kroger she found on her two-hour drive to reach the wedding destination in Chattanooga. She got her prescription filled and soon began to experience relief.
“We’re so lucky to have so many advances in technology. It’s a great option to be in the comfort of your own home and not have to leave, but still get high quality health care. I’m thrilled UCHealth is offering this service,” she said.
Ennis’ primary care provider is Dr. Mitra Razzaghi at the UCHealth WISH Clinic on the Anschutz Medical Campus. WISH stands for Women’s Integrated Services in Health.
The communication with Razzaghi was seamless. Immediately after her online visit, Ennis’ medical record was up to date and her regular doctor was in the loop.
While Ennis frequently uses her My Health Connection app to ask Razzaghi questions and request refills, patients don’t necessarily need to be tech savvy to make a Virtual Urgent Care visit. And, they don’t need to be current UCHealth patients.
Any adult in Colorado with access to a computer, tablet or smart phone can use Virtual Urgent Care, even those who don’t have health insurance. There’s a flat fee of $49 for visits if a patient doesn’t have insurance.
The service is available 24/7.
Dr. Chris Davis, the medical director for Virtual Health at UCHealth, said the tool is ideal for a particular set of complaints including: coughs, colds and flu, pink eye, sinus infections, sore throats, urinary tract infections and vomiting and diarrhea.
Providers can prescribe medications, but will not dole out opioids or other pain pills.
Davis is an emergency medicine specialist and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Patients should not use Virtual Urgent Care if they are having a medical emergency such as chest pain or trouble breathing, Davis said.
On a handful of occasions, Davis told patients who signed up for a Virtual Urgent Care to instead seek emergency care. The patients don’t get charged twice. Their doctors want to help them get exactly the care they need as quickly as possible.
“This is convenience care,” Davis said.
“You can be at the office and schedule a visit over the lunch hour. Instead of having to leave work for what turns out to be half a day, then head to the pharmacy and wait in line, you can do an incredibly compressed visit,” he said.
“We can connect you with a provider and be done with your visit in less than 30 minutes, then you can pick up your prescription within an hour.”
And, you know you’re speaking with a pro.
“We’re using our own providers. This isn’t farmed out. It’s all integrated into EPIC (the patient’s digital health record),” Davis said.
If the patient is already part of UCHealth, Davis and other providers can review the patient’s medical history in advance so they’re familiar with any allergies or relevant medical history.
“Then, we go into a private ‘video room’ and do the visit,” Davis said. “To do our examinations, we rely on the patient to help us. For pink eye, for example, they can hold the camera up to the eye so I can see any signs of infection. If it were sinusitis, I might have the patient tap on the sinus to see if it’s tender.
“It’s certainly a shift in how we practice medicine. In the emergency department, we use all our senses all the time. You are used to reaching out and touching someone,” Davis said. “But, it’s amazing the kind of information you can get through a Virtual Urgent Care visit.”
Ennis and her husband have two young children. She co-owns a boutique marketing agency called Collectively Creative. Like all parents with young children, the Ennises are busy. In the past, they’ve tried getting urgent care from a company that sends providers to the house. But, Ennis said she much preferred her Virtual Urgent Care visit.
“This will be my first line of defense in the future,” she said. “It really could not have worked out better.”