Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or an in-the-office-by-9 sort of person, you’ve undoubtedly got a lot of stuff to do every single day. Which is why waiting longer than hoped for in a doctor’s office can be a total drag. With flu season upon us, you can almost always count on longer waiting room stints — just like that guaranteed assortment of reads in the magazine rack. 

“It’s hard enough to carve out the time to get to a provider when you’re not feeling all that well,” says Angie Lucchi, vice president of outreach and telehealth for HCA Healthcare’s MidAmerica division, which operates hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Wait times can get a little longer in the peak months, but our physicians always try to offer same-day appointments for urgent-type needs.”

One recent survey found that 84 percent of people believe wait time is either “somewhat important” or “very important” to the overall experience at a doctor’s office, and the average wait time for a doctor in America is currently 18 minutes, 13 seconds. That’s where the beauty of the Internet comes in. Organizations like HCA are offering up a way to be seen by a physician or practitioner through a virtual portal. 

It starts with their HCA Healthcare’s Care Navigator, a free, unique online health triage tool where users can answer questions about their health conditions and quickly get direction for the appropriate point of care. From there, they may be directed to the virtual visit tool — a quick, convenient way to see a provider and starting feeling better quickly.

“Long gone are the days where we’re willing to stick to the normal hours that provider offices are typically open,” Lucchi tells SheKnows. “As a working mom myself, it’s great to have something available that I can use from home on my couch, alleviating that worry of needing to get to urgent care early to beat the line.”

Interested in seeking online treatment? Here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of a virtual doctor’s visit.

1. This is about as convenient as it gets

The great thing about the virtual visit is that it is staffed 24/7 by licensed physicians and advance practice providers who can treat patients 6 months and older. All virtual visits are done using a video connection, as if you were going to FaceTime or Skype a friend or family member. This allows the provider to see the patient and better examine the patient’s symptoms and conditions.

2. Costs are low

The goal here isn’t to make you feel burdened by overwhelming costs to find treatment. The price for the virtual visit is $45. The good news? If you go through the Care Navigator online triage and they’re unable to diagnose and treat you through the video visit, then you’ll be reimbursed for the cost and suggested to seek an alternate care setting.

3. Do the right prep before your virtual visit

Most of us wouldn’t show up to an important meeting without doing necessary prep work, and the virtual visit is no exception, says Dr. Loren Meyer, president for HCA MidAmerica Division Physician Services Group. 

“It’s super important for prospective patients to be open with the provider — or input before the chat begins — [about] what medications they’re taking, what allergies they have, any chronic healthcare conditions that they might have. That sort of stuff,” he tells SheKnows.That will really help drive the visit to a better outcome.”

Whether the visit is for you or a loved one, the more information that a provider has, the better solutions and treatment options they can provide.

4. Doctors can see your health records from a virtual visit

Sometimes, all the lingo doctors use makes you wonder if they’re speaking in a foreign language. Any information a provider collects during a virtual visit can be shared with the next expert you speak with using the tool so you have one less thing to worry about.

“Providers keep an ongoing record, so if a patient has been seen previously through a virtual visit, that info is available to the next virtual health care provider,” says Dr. Meyer. “This way, they’ll know what’s been tried in the past.”

Going to see your doctor IRL after a virtual visit? If the provider is in the HCA network, then your files will be shared with that provider as well.

5. Experts can diagnose and treat a range of ailments.

Virtual providers can treat conditions such as allergies, minor burns, colds and flu, cough, sore throat, sinus issues, bladder infections, rashes and skin conditions, and pink eye — among others. 

This post is sponsored by HCA MidAmerica Division, which operates hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississppi.

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