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A doctor's office in your living room

BY ANDREW POTOCKI | JUNE 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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With a recently launched program, Iowans across the state can meet with doctors face-to-face without ever leaving the comfort of their own home.

University of Iowa Health Care has recently begun offering virtual clinic UIecare.

The program allows people to video chat with doctors and other healthcare professionals by accessing the UIecare website on their computer, tablet, or smartphone, said Andrea Krupa, director of business and partner development for UI Hospitals and Clinics.

The program is aimed at anyone who needs medical advice on a minor illness or injury they feel is urgent but not life threatening, Krupa said.

Greg Johnson, a marketing associate at UIHC, said the website charges a flat rate fee of $50 per consultation and said the program does not cover patients with Medicare or Medicaid.

While it only covers people within the state of Iowa, Johnson said the program is not limited to residents of the state.

“We want people outside of the state to know they can take full advantage of the system,” he said.

While Brophy said the number of users on the site have not been released mostly because it is to early to tell, he mentioned they expect an increase in users once students come back in the fall.
Krupa said a big part of the program is education.

“It’s not just about assessing [the patient’s] condition, but also educating them about the symptoms they have,” she said.

The program also can help users in finding a primary care provider if they do not have one currently, said Patrick Brophy, the assistant vice president of UIHC’s ehealth and enovation.

If the user says they do not have a primary care provider, the program will pull from its database and lookup potential primary care providers within the proximity of the user.

Brophy explained all the health care providers using UIecare have to be trained in the different technology they may have to use. They must utilize good communications skills since they aren’t able to physically examine their patients.

“It’s not quite as simple as flipping a switch and talking,” he said. 

He said all doctors have received their credentials from UIHC and are available 24 hours a day for consultations.

Although the program is the first of its kind in the state of Iowa, there have been other programs like it, but many of those have a nationwide focus instead of statewide focus.

“Because they are national based they don’t have a landing pad they can go to, but we have that landing pad,” Brophy said, referring to the University Hospitals and Clinics.

Being linked to a local hospital network, like UIHC, in an emergency allows patients to receive care much quicker than a program with a national focus Brophy said.

Brophy said there is still a lot more to be done in the coming months in order to make the website even more accessible. These plans include a Spanish language site set to launch at the end of June, and an app that will be available on the app store.


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