Too sick to visit the doctor in person? Mercy Health can see you anyway -- online

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-05 20:06:07-04

CINCINNATI -- Until recently, attempting to find medical care online was a quest as stressful as it was invariably doomed. On WebMD, every headache becomes a brain tumor, every sniffle becomes a symptom of the bubonic plague, and every patient becomes a little more convinced they're going to expire before the end of the day.

It's a big, terrifying black hole of information into which Mercy Health hopes to bring a little light. The Tri-State's largest health care system offers e-visits, which combine the convenience of Googling one's symptoms with the quality care one receives when they visit the doctor in person. 

Mercy Health patients can create an account, select a doctor they would like to consult, fill out a survey to describe their condition and even attach a picture of any visible symptoms they are experiencing. Responses, which can include diagnoses, treatment information and even prescriptions, typically arrive within about six hours.

"It was a very easy thing to complete and request," LaDonna Carman, who saw her physician via an e-visit, said. "She prescribed the meds for me, and I was off on vacation."

E-visits aren't for urgent conditions -- a Skype call can't remove a ruptured appendix, splint a broken arm or perform a CAT scan -- but can benefit both doctors and patients when used for everyday ills such as colds, rashes and heartburn. 

"That particular patient won't take up time on your schedule," Drake said. "You'll then be able to see other patients who may be sicker or have more needs than the patient from the e-visit."

It might seem a little out-there, we know, but it's 2018. The internet can connect the acne-prone with dermatologists, the inept chef with meal kits and the hair-obsessed with specialized shampoo and conditioner. Why not connect the sniffly with doctors they already know?