Need Urgent Care? New Services Let You Avoid The Wait And The Germs.

By John Murawski
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) For someone with a minor injury in need of a quick prescription, telemedicine can be many times cheaper than visiting a hospital emergency room, and a lot faster, too.

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

The next time you’re dragging with a fever or miserable with pink eye, you can see the doctor without leaving your bedroom. All it takes is a smart phone or a home computer.

UNC Health Care and WakeMed Health & Hospitals this week began offering urgent care services online.

UNC Urgent Care 24/7 is a round-the-clock video linkup that allows you to talk with on-call doctors about sore throats, coughs, diarrhea, nausea, rashes, bug bites and other minor symptoms.

The Chapel-Hill-based health care system, which operates 13 hospitals in the state, announced the service on Tuesday, the day after WakeMed Health & Hospitals, launched its online urgent care service, eVisit.

WakeMed’s telemedicine service is for five common symptoms — coughs, diarrhea, sinus problems, headaches and urinary tract infections. It does not include a video component, however, but allows doctors and patients to communicate online in writing and send written descriptions of problems.

Telemedicine has been slow to gain traction in the Triangle. Duke University Health System is not offering virtual urgent cares at this time, but the Durham system offers video follow-up visits after routine surgeries — such as removals of tonsils and gall bladders — and plans to expand to other procedures.

Duke’s Telestroke Network has been providing stroke specialist video consultations to patients in hospitals in southern Virginia and eastern North Carolina since 2013.

In other parts of the state, Vidant Health in Eastern North Carolina has been offering an online video-enabled service since January, while Cary-based RelyMD, an independent service that provides virtual urgent care services around the state, debuted in 2015. UNC and Vidant are both offering their online service through RelyMD’s competitor, MDLIVE, a Florida company that supplies the North Carolina-licensed doctors and the technology to operate virtual care clinics.

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