Most rural Iowans don’t have the convenience of a nearby urgent care or walk-in clinic when they feel sick, but there’s a new option — using the internet.
The website www.LiveHealthOnline.com markets itself as putting a doctor at your side 24-seven.
Dr. Mia Finkelston is one of dozens of physicians on staff who are just a few clicks away and several of them are in Iowa.
“You would have the ability to speak face-to-face with a board-certified physician of your choosing,” Finkelston says. “Usually, there are multiple doctors available in the state you’re calling from. It’s by no means meant to be a replacement for your doctor.”
All you need to interact is a computer with a web camera or a smart phone. She says they can diagnose and treat a number of ailments, including colds, the flu, allergies, diarrhea, sinus infections and bronchitis.
“With the phone feature or a webcam, it’s easy to look at the rashes,” Finkelston says. “Sometimes I ask for assistance or I’ll ask the patient to put a quarter next to that or if they have any change, something to give me a little size indication. We see a lot of questions about allergies in the fall and the spring. We’re hoping to work in addition to your primary care physician, certainly not to replace them.”
She says the service is for non-emergencies. Doctors are allowed to electronically prescribe medication to a nearby pharmacy under Iowa law, and she says these tele-visits are covered by a number of insurance companies.
“We can diagnose, as long as we feel like we got enough information from you and could see the areas and then we can treat,” she says. “It’s generated through the electronic record system through the computer or through the phone. Everything is private and secure and HIPAA-compliant and then we can prescribe to the pharmacy.”
Finkelston encourages patients to print a copy of the prescription and diagnosis and give it to their regular physician.
Typically, she says Iowans will video chat with a doctor in Iowa. She says the wait time is usually two minutes and the average visit is about ten minutes. The cost is $49, not including prescriptions.