The old-fashioned house call is back with a modern twist. Thanks to NYU Langone Health’s virtual urgent care service, people in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania can now be seen by a board-certified emergency medicine physician through a secure video-conferencing app. Suspected case of pink eye? Mysterious rash? Flu-like symptoms? Virtual urgent care specialists can attend to these and other minor conditions, in many cases sparing patients a trip to the doctor’s office or the emergency department.
Patients are often surprised by how much a virtual exam feels just like an office visit, notes Viraj Lakdawala, MD, director of telemedicine in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine. “We can tell a lot by observing how the patient is breathing, how much they are sweating, how flushed their face is, and how lethargic they seem,” Dr. Lakdawala explains. “If they point the camera on their smartphone at the back of the throat, we can see whether the tonsils are inflamed.”
The doctor may also ask the patient to press on their sinuses, lymph nodes, or abdomen for signs of inflammation. At the end of a visit, which typically takes about 10 minutes, the doctor can prescribe medications, order tests, or make a referral as needed.
“This model of care allows NYU Langone to offer patients an extremely convenient, high-quality option that they can access from anywhere,” says Robert J. Femia, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.
NYU Langone’s virtual urgent care team consists of 30 physicians from its nationally renowned Department of Emergency Medicine, all trained in telemedicine by Dr. Lakdawala. These specialists are skilled not only in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of conditions, but also in determining when symptoms warrant a visit to the emergency department. (Fortunately, this happens infrequently: only about 5 percent of the patients who use virtual urgent care are diagnosed with a condition that requires an immediate in-person evaluation.) And because virtual urgent care is integrated with the institution’s electronic medical record system, doctors can quickly consult the medical history of existing patients and extend to new patients the benefits of NYU Langone’s vast network of specialists.
The service is currently offered 7 days a week to adults and to children ages 12 and older, with plans to extend it to pediatric patients as young as 5. Same-day appointments are available, often with short waits. “This is a new way of seeking care,” says Dr. Lakdawala, “but our patients feel comfortable with it because they know they can trust us.”
Three Easy Steps to Schedule an Appointment
2. Select a time from 7:00AM to 11:00PM Monday to Friday, and 8:00AM to 8:00PM Saturday and Sunday.
3. Click the registration link in your visit confirmation email to begin your video visit.