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Thursday, February 12, 2015

UTI, HRI AND STAT DOCS - PUTTING PATIENTS FIRST

The thing is, they come on like gangbusters. I'm talking about those extremely annoying urinary tract infections. Yeah. TMI. Got it. Here's my thing. I can be walking around fine. Literally FINE. And from one second to the next, I feel it. The dreaded pressure and within moments, I'm ready to hurl myself off the roof of the tallest building I can find. Generally, that would be my home. Two floors, which means I would likely just break lots of bones and cause lots of other bodily pain.

Jokes aside. Last night at approximately 7PM I was having dinner in a local diner. I thought I had that feeling. Got home and sure enough, the pressure. The purpose of this post isn't to discuss the exact track of a UTI as it occurs in my body. The purpose is to share something rather unique and wonderful and cutting edge.

Although I'm having a bit of a health insurance issue at the moment thanks to that emergency intensive care stay dating back to October in an out of network hospital, the issue is not with MY insurance company.  They are doing everything they can to contact the hospital and the providers who poked their head in the door and promptly sent me a bill for $750.00 for their consultation and care. Followed by several other providers who did the same.

My health insurance company, Health Republic of New York? Love them. A couple of months ago, I received notification from them about something called Stat Doctors. It's one of my benefits. It has a zero co-pay, I can download an app, I can access them via my computer or I can call them on the phone. Being a computer geek and a health geek, I was intrigued. Fascinated. Curious.

Last night, my curiosity was satisfied and What.A.Pleasure. First, I rummaged through several cabinets to see if I had ANY antibiotics of any kind anywhere. The temperature is dropping rapidly again and last night it felt like the thermometer was falling with each tick of the clock. I do not have a primary care physician. Yes, you can lecture me on that another time. Even seven years post treatment, I still see a few of the doctors at MSKCC. Adding an annual physical just seems like a waste of healthcare dollars. So, I'm a big fan of those urgent care centers. Flu-like symptoms, I'm there. UTI symptoms, I'm there. Lingering fever, I'm THERE.

Except last night, I didn't want to Go There. It was too cold and I was in pain that was intensifying at the same rate that thermometer was falling. A perfect storm. I grabbed my phone and hit the Stat Doctors app. It got a little creepy when it started asking me if the app could access my microphone so I decided I would use the phone option. I pressed the wrong button and was listening to the menu in a foreign language. My brain doesn't work well with numbers under the best circumstances. Add pain distraction and I'm done. So I grabbed my laptop.

Went to the Stat Doctors site where I already set up a profile a few weeks ago. I logged in and clicked a button that said, "Start an e-visit."  I was instructed to download a plug in which I did and the next thing I know, a screen opens up where I'm being checked in for a visit and the process is being explained. Total time for this entire process, under three minutes. I was informed my wait time would be less than ten minutes. I was told I could play some computer games on their site or I could busy myself with something I might be doing in my home and come back to the computer in ten minutes.

I was mesmerized by the whole thing. What was going to happen next? I never moved from the sofa. Watching television, laptop exactly where it's name implies. On my lap. Within two minutes, I see a man on my screen. I already knew his name since I was told who would be seeing me and provided with a link to his medical credentials. I could see him, but he couldn't see me. I had clicked the little button to turn off my camera. I think I was a bit shocked to see this strange face on my screen.

I'm fairly savvy with this tech stuff but I really never embraced FaceTime or Skype or those visual phone conversations. I hate the way I look. I'm always slumped in a chair which is an extremely unflattering angle OR, I'm sans makeup and not many people see me without makeup. I'm an old fashioned telephone kinda gal in a techie world. Effective immediately, I intend to change that because this Stat Doctor thing was simply amazing.

I clicked on my camera button and the kind (yes and kinda hot) guy in my laptop introduced himself using his first name and greeted me.  "What's going on this evening?" Very quickly, I said hello and told him I have a urinary tract infection. He asked why I thought that and I told him they seem to happen in bunches and they always seem to clear up without issue. Explained a bit more.... he asked when I had the last one..... I told him and then he asked if there was a particular medication that seemed to work best for me. I told him that Cipro was my preference. We discussed dose and done.

"I'll send the prescription over to your pharmacy. I hope you feel better."

I said thank you, ended the visit on my side and stared at the computer screen. What Just Happened??

I ran out into the freezing cold to go to the pharmacy to pick up the medication. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was convinced the script would NOT be there. There would be a glitch somewhere. I was sure of it. But no. I got to the pharmacy, they already had the orders and it was almost ready.

What a stellar experience. Understand, of course, this is for very specific medical issues but for something like this, a UTI, which is a major nuisance in my life, it was simply fantastic. I saved time, I saved gas, I saved money, I knew what was wrong, I was treated with respect, my input was an integral part of the process.

Simply stated, this is the epitome of a patient partnership and shared decision making.

I'm beyond impressed. Extremely grateful this is offered to me at no charge by Health Republic and KUDOS to Stat Doctors for putting together a platform that worked like a charm. The only thing that might have made it better? A drone drop of the medication to my front door!

Well done. In fact, ingenious.

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