The next time you get sick, a doctor might check you out, diagnose what's wrong, and prescribe medicine all without ever laying a finger on you. It's a growing trend known as telehealth or telemedicine services.
It's 2 a.m. and you're sick. You're pretty sure you need a doctor, but don't want to go to the ER. It's no longer your only option.
Tampa General Hospital will soon be offering virtual doctor visits from the comfort of your own home.
Mike Gorsage, with Tampa General Hospital, says, "You'll be able to visit TGH virtual care either from your desktop, tablet or your mobile phone."
The hospital is teaming up with American Well, a telehealth company, to get the service started. Dr. Sherri Dehaas is one of the doctors.
"The most common thing I see is sinusitis you know sinus infections, urinary tract infections, rashes, cough, cold, you know, I'm seeing a lot of influenza now."
And the virtual doctors are thorough. I talked with Dr. Dehaas about my sore throat. After getting a medical history, she looked at my throat and even walked me through an examination. She diagnosed me with allergies and recommended some over-the-counter medications. But if she thought I needed a prescription, she could do that, too.
"We can send them electronically and they can be picked up within the hour," said Dehaas.
Dehaas has been a family doctor for 14 years and doing telehealth for three years now. She is confident the practice is safe.
"This really meets the needs of patients who can't get into their physicians right away and need to be seen now."
Gorsage is excited about starting the service in the Tampa Bay area.
"It's high quality, it's fast, it's reasonable and we wanted to help our clients and patients to think about access and convenience."
TGH virtual care goes online in a few weeks.