The Convenience of Virtual Health Care

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of   national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”;  founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court.  Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.

“The Convenience of Virtual Health Care”

Several decades ago when I was first introduced to a computer, I never would have believed that one day I would be able to use the internet to see and speak with a doctor live if I happened to be sick.  Nor would I have dreamed that I could receive appropriate medical advice without ever having to leave the comfort of my sick bed, home, or office, thereby avoiding the hassle of a long and inconvenient wait at Urgent Care or hospital emergency room.

But the day of live video chats has arrived, which means no waiting to get a medical appointment when we want immediate answers! This newer approach to healthcare is of particular interest to seniors because it provides the convenience of in-home treatment and monitoring.

Yes, it is now possible to receive an online consultation with a licensed physician or nurse practitioner as long as we have access to some type of digital device with audio and video components, such as a computer, lap-top, tablet, smart phone, etc., and are willing to pay an upfront fee which may or may not be reimbursable by insurance.

This service is referred to as telehealth–also known as virtual care, telemedicine, and digital doctor–and is available nationwide.

Who is telehealth intended for?

My impression is that it is primarily intended to answer questions or provide diagnosis and treatment for people with common ailments more than for those who have serious illnesses or emergencies, but who knows where this revolution may lead?  It is certainly a great help to someone who may live in a remote area and have difficulty getting to a doctor, or who can’t get a doctor’s appointment for weeks.  And it also provides an option for those who must wait until someone else is available to drive them to an appointment, such as a senior citizen.

Typical ailments which telehealth medical staffs addresses are common colds, sore throats, flu, fever, pink eye, infections, urinary tract infections, and baby care.  They also prescribe needed medication, refill existing prescriptions, and help with the medical management of such chronic conditions as diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure.  Telehealth consultants often have an alliance with laboratories where tests or lab work may be ordered, when necessary.

Will this type service replace the traditional visit to your family doctor?

No, it is not intended to take the place of your regular office visit to your doctor, but to supplement medical services by making them accessible when needed.

I have spoken with Sigi Marmorstein RN, MSN, FNP-BC, founder and vice-president of a California-based service called MedCareLive, who said that their service has become so popular because people become hooked by its convenience.

Marmorstein also advised me that MedCareLive’s typical charge for a ten-minute live video medical consultation is forty-five dollars.  For more information, you may visit

Clearly, the trend in telecommunications technologies is toward instantaneous interaction, a big benefit in monitoring a patient’s quality of life between regular physician office visits.

After a lifetime of visits to the doctor, plus long waits in the waiting room while sneezing, coughing, or not feeling well, virtual health care is certainly a revolutionary approach to earlier intervention which may, in turn, prevent a disease or illness from progressing.  And to think that it’s just a call away!

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