Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/10/2020 --If individuals are concerned, they might have the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, Intermountain Healthcare is encouraging them to reach out via technology first rather than making a visit to their doctor's office.
The Intermountain Connect Care virtual care service allows residents to be screened by a medical professional from the comfort of their home, without potentially exposing others and spreading disease. Much like Facetime or Skype, Connect Care visits are conducting via a secure televideo call between the patient and an Intermountain caregiver.
"The number of people accessing these services has skyrocketed in the past two weeks," said Kerry Palakanis, DNP, APRN, Executive Director Connect Care Operations. "Using Connect Care is just like seeing a healthcare provider at an urgent care facility like an InstaCare, except you can do it from anywhere, at any time. No appointment is necessary, and your regular Intermountain doctor can see a record of your visit."
"We use a screening assessment as suggested by the CDC to gauge your risk of the disease," said Palakanis. "We don't charge for a screening but can help you to find a caregiver if you need one."
Using Connect Care is easy.
1. Download the app to your smart phone for free from the iTunes or the Google Play Store
2. Create an account. It takes only a few steps and is done in minutes. Your information is then stored securely for all future online visits.
3. Choose the provider that works best for you.
Palakanis says a regular Connect Care visits costs $59 or less depending on your insurance (which is not required), and can help with:
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Sore throat
- Eye infections
- Painful urination
- Lower back pain
- Joint pain or strains
- Minor skin problems
"Obviously physical exams or testing cannot be done via Connect Care," said Palakanis. "But we are well equipped to diagnosis your risk of COVID-19."
Beside Connect Care, Intermountain is also offering a free Health Answers phone line. "Concerned individuals can call to have basic questions answered by a healthcare provider, just without the video evaluation," said Palakanis. Health Answers can be reached by calling 844-501-6600.
"Currently, if you haven't traveled to an infected region where there is community spread or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk is very low," said Todd J. Vento, MD, Medical Director, Intermountain Infectious Disease TeleHealth. "If you are concerned, you can see your doctor or be screened by Intermountain Connect Care."
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with severity ranging from mild to severe illness. In other coronaviruses, common signs of infection include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. Residents who think they may have coronavirus-like symptom can be screened using the service and then be advised on appropriate follow up care.
"If you do go to your primary care doctor or an InstaCare, call ahead and let them know about your travel and symptoms to limit potential exposure to others and avoid spreading the virus," said Dr. Vento.
Intermountain Healthcare is extending its clinical expertise to all areas of the state and beyond with TeleHealth infectious disease consultations to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
"We provide consultations to specialists from around the intermountain area from topics ranging from neonatal care to stroke, including infectious diseases like COVID-19" said Dr. Vento. "It doesn't matter if you live in downtown Salt Lake, or rural southern Utah. The same level of specialty care and clinical expertise is extended to hospitals, clinics, and even patient homes."
High definition cameras and microphones are used by medical specialists to evaluate, diagnosis, and suggest treatment for patients. "Smaller hospitals often don't have the level of need for full time specialty care, but by leveraging technology they can access our specialists any time they need it."
Intermountain currently has ten TeleHealth specialty programs, including critical care, oncology, mental health, neuro and stroke, wound care and infectious disease.
"TeleHealth is an integrated part of how we deliver care at Intermountain Healthcare," said Dr. Vento. "From hospitals, to outpatient clinics, to patient homes, we use audio/video technology to connect clinicians with one another, keep patients closer to home and out of the hospital when possible, and remove traditional barriers so patients can get the specialized care they need, wherever they are."
For more information on Intermountain TeleHealth Services, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/telehealth/. Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org.