Doctors using virtual care visits to treat flu patients from home so they aren’t infecting others

TAMPA, Fla. — Two major hospitals in the Tampa Bay area allow you to receive a diagnosis and prescription without leaving your home, helping prevent spreading the flu.

Fears are mounting over the flu as it continues to wreak havoc throughout the country.

Jaina Johnson’s daughter was out for days with the virus.

“When I took her to the doctor, there was like an hour and a half wait,” she said. “A lot of people were just thinking not to bring their kids in it all, because of course they have the contagious and non contagious rooms and they were both filled up.”

Doctors suggest you stay home if you have flu-like symptoms and that’s pretty easy to do when you can talk to a board certified physician on your smart phone.

If able, the doctor will give you a diagnosis and prescription, like Tamiflu, over the phone. You’d have to pick your prescriptions up at your pharmacy, or see if they can be mailed to you.

COMMONLY TREATED CONDITIONS:

Flu Cough Low grade fever Skin rashes Swimmers ear Sinus Infection Sore Throat Pink Eye Cough Bronchitis And more Tampa General Hospital and Baycare are offering virtual care to anyone in the country, and it costs around $49 per visit.

Both apps are very easy to use. For Tampa General Hospital, search ‘Virtual Care’ in your app store. For Baycare, search ‘BayCare Anywhere’ in your app store.

Once you download the app, you input information about you and your family, and then browse through available doctors. You can scroll through their profile and see how much experience they have, and if they’re currently treating someone.

“They can diagnose the flu based on their symptoms,” said Joann Shea, a Nurse Practitioner at TGH. She showed us the kiosk they have in the hospital for employees – it’s a little more advanced allowing the virtual doctor to get information using the diagnostic tools. “They can take their temperature, their blood pressure, their oxygen level,” said Shea.

Dr. Donald Goddard, who lives in Florida answered our call when we signed into the app. He says most people don’t have these tools, but treating patients at home is keeping folks from infecting others.

“Most of the time people have a clear history of a bacterial infection or they’ll tell you my son was diagnosed with the flu, with a flu test and I got all the symptoms,” he said. “So it makes it easier to treat that patient.”

And if he can’t help, he doesn’t charge them the $49 dollar fee – instead, he recommends a nearby ER or urgent care for in person treatment.

BayCare suggests going to an urgent care for allergies, ear pain or infection, animal and insect bites, burns, urinary tract infects, etc.

Broken bones, fainting/dizziness/weakness, poisoning, shortness of breath, severe pain in the chest, or symptoms of a heart attack and stroke are reasons to go to the emergency room.

BayCare is also partnering with Publix to provide walk-in care with these kiosks – they call them Telehealth centers and they will have diagnostic tools like thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, and more. The first one is located at a Publix in Valrico. (3461 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico, FL, 33596)