Virtual Visit: meeting patients where they are
Your doctor is ready to see you now — on your smartphone.
Your next appointment with a primary care physician or specialist could be as easy as opening an app.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals and families are following social distancing recommendations to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Yet, they still need access to health care for treatment of medical conditions. Fortunately, new and existing UF Health patients are eligible to visit their health care provider from the safety and comfort of their home through the UF Health Virtual Visit program.
Virtual Visit, also referred to as telehealth or telemedicine, offers secure online video appointments using a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access. Patients use the camera on the device to see their UF Health provider on screen.
Victoria Array, MD, a pediatrician at UF Health Family Medicine and Pediatrics – Nocatee, offers the service to her patients. In March, she conducted her first Virtual Visit and found the experience to be rewarding.
“Virtual Visit is an amazing tool to allow doctors to serve patients,” Array said. “Our staff has been very diligent in helping parents with setup and instructions. The ability to see patients face-to-face gives them continuity of care.”
Medical conditions she can diagnose and/or treat online include ADHD, allergies, asthma flare-ups, depression and rashes. Array recently helped a young patient who was having difficulty swallowing. She guided the patient’s mom on how to get a close-up view and photo of the tonsils.
“I was able to clearly see the patient’s enlarged tonsils and prescribe the proper medication for treatment,” Array said.
To keep up with the latest practices and technology with Virtual Visits, Array attends webinars, reviews training materials and learns through each patient visit. She also helps enhance the Virtual Visit experience for patients by sharing tips on preparing for their appointments.
“Patients should have a good internet connection, access to the software and good lighting, so that I can properly see conditions, such as a rash or eye infection,” Array said.
Virtual Visit was offered prior to COVID-19. Nipa Shah, MD, a professor and chair of community health and family medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, leads a telehealth task force and has seen the program grow from just a handful of physician offices to UF Health primary and specialty care practices throughout Northeast Florida.
“A small group of dedicated visionaries on the UF Health campus has been working on developing telehealth access for our patients for more than five years now. With just relatively minor fine-tuning, we were able to meet the needs for many of our patients during this extraordinary time,” Shah said. “Patients and health care workers have to get used to the technology. But once they do, the second and third visits are relatively smooth.”
UF Health primary care physicians and specialists are ready to meet the health care needs of patients through online appointments. Visit UFHealthJax.org/virtual-visit or call 904.383.1052 to learn more about Virtual Visits, find a list of participating providers or make an appointment.