When you think about the benefits of seeing a doctor online, you often think of the convenience factor. Not having to travel to a physician’s office is ideal if you don’t have transportation, can’t find anyone to watch the kids or don’t feel up to leaving the house. However, sometimes seeing a doctor without leaving the house isn’t just a matter of convenience, but instead, a matter of necessity. Hurricanes and other natural disasters that result in dangerous traveling conditions are an excellent example of an instance where online medicine does what traditional healthcare can’t.
Virtual House Calls in the Aftermath of Hurricanes
Imagine that you get hurt in the middle of a dangerous storm like Hurricane Florence. The streets are flooding. Trees are being knocked down all around you. Debris flies unpredictably through the air. Even if you can get out of your home, the driving conditions make it impossible to travel safely. You might choose to chance the hazardous trip to the hospital if you’re facing a life-or-death emergency – but what about an injury that, while painful, doesn’t require immediate medical treatment to survive?
Your regular physician’s office probably isn’t open. Even if it is, travel is just not safe. That’s where the value of online medical care becomes clear. Telemedical services allow you to see a doctor right away with a virtual house call, and neither you nor the physician has to take the risk of being out in the dangerous weather and road conditions.
A History of Help for Hurricane Victims
As Hurricane Florence approached North Carolina in mid-September 2018, UNC Health Care prepared for the inevitable harm by waiving the fee for its UNC Urgent Care 24/7 service. Patients who needed medical help during the weekend the storm hit could have a live video consultation with a physician without paying the regular $49 fee. Online medical care proved to be a necessity in this instance, with some NC communities still seeing severe flooding weeks after the hurricane.
Florence isn’t the first hurricane to bring out the best in online medical services. From September through December 2017, telehealth company LiveHealth Online offered free online medical and psychology care to victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida. Hurricane Harvey also prompted numerous telemedicine services, including LiveHealth Online, EpicMD and Doctor On Demand, to provide free online consultations for patients throughout Texas and Louisiana.