My allergies have been quite bad this year, and I've been fighting an on-again-off-again sinus infection due to said allergies for the last couple of months. On Thursday of this week, it felt like I was getting a sore throat when I swallowed or ate, but by Friday night I realized it was actually ear pain. All day yesterday I had the pain on and off, so I hoped that it was just due to sinus pressure. Having had ear infections my entire life though, it was apparent by last night that I have an ear infection, most likely due to all the sinus issues I've been dealing with. I had been delaying the inevitable...I needed a round of antibiotics.
We have several urgent care offices in town, but they aren't appointment based so going is a crap shoot of how quickly you will be seen. The thought of spending my Sunday at the urgent care office, and making myself presentable enough to do so, was unappealing. While I know a handful of people who have mentioned or even used online healthcare before, I had not ever done so. Not quite sure how it all worked, I was hesitant to try it. This morning though, when I woke up with the ear pain again (I had hoped it would magically disappear after drugging myself to sleep last night), I spent a little time researching it online. There are a lot of websites for online healthcare, at varying costs. Although I had searched using my insurance company last night and didn't find anything, I actually happened upon their site this morning. Knowing that it was linked to my insurance company I felt a bit more comfortable trying it out as opposed to some random health site. So I tried it!
It took just a few minutes to sign up and then there was a quick health and insurance/pharmacy questionnaire. In about a minute it accepted my insurance, I paid the $20 copay (which is my regular visit copay) with my credit card, and I was in a virtual waiting room with two patients ahead of me. The nice thing about the wait was that I waited in my bed reading as opposed to in the urgent care waiting room with other sick people. I'm not sure how long I waited, since I had occupied myself with a book, but maybe 10 minutes later the iPad dinged and told me it was my turn. Within a few seconds I was video chatting with a nice doctor about my ear pain. An additional plus for using this service linked to my insurance is that she had my medical information beyond the health questionnaire. She could see that I had been battling a sinus infection so it was most likely caused by that. The doctor had me touch my ear in a couple of places and tell her if/where it hurt. Then she asked to see my throat, which made me laugh. Trying to hold the iPad up to my mouth and make sure the camera was looking in the right spot was a bit challenging. We chatted for about 5 minutes, she prescribed me a Z Pack and sent it right to the pharmacy which I will pick up in about an hour.
The only downside, you have to watch yourself on camera the whole time. Certain angles on those devices are so unflattering. The thought of owning a selfie stick is ridiculous to me, but the idea crossed my mind a few times during the visit.
I had no idea what to expect from an online visit, which made me uncertain about trying it. After today's experience, and the fact that it's linked to my insurance, I would definitely use it again. It sure beats waiting in line at the actual office when you're feeling sick. Other than a quick trip to the pharmacy, I didn't have to leave my bed. I'm a fan of anything I can do from the comfort of my bed.
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