Public health officials have repeated it over and over: If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms (cough, heavy chest, low fever), stay home, helping to minimize the disease’s spread and preserve precious resources for the seriously ill.
Given that, how do you know whether your symptoms are serious enough to warrant concern? Here are a few ways to get medical help without going to your doctor or a hospital.
Get a telehealth exam
Many Nevada healthcare insurers and providers offer virtual visits with a primary care physician over the phone or computer. And based on the state emergency response team’s recommendation, most kinds of insurance are now covering telehealth appointments.
For the unfamiliar, a telehealth exam involves visiting a website or app store, downloading the app, creating an account, and then following instructions to request an appointment. (PRO TIP: Have your insurance ID card on hand before you begin.) The appointment itself consists of a live consultation with a doctor, nurse, or physician assistant, who may give you a diagnosis and prescription during the session. Most are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A few examples of local telehealth options follow.
Have Your Doctor Monitor You at Home
About a year and a half ago, Healthcare Partners got into the business of home health monitoring – giving patients instruments to measure their vital signs, along with tablet computers that upload the data through Bluetooth. That information went to monitors, who would keep an eye out for anything requiring intervention by a physician. Healthcare Partners’ senior medical director for population health Steven Evans says the project, called Trident, was so successful at keeping people out of the hospital that the company decided to use a version of it on high-risk patients during the most recent flu season.
Then came the coronavirus.
“We quickly pivoted to, ‘How can we make patients feel safe and secure in their homes and not have to come to the doctor’s office if they feel sick?’” Evans says.
For COVID-19, the technology is stripped down somewhat — it’s basically an app that tracks temperature and other symptoms — but it works the same way, on the same platform. Monitors watch the results for signs a doctor should be alerted. They determine the correct course of action, which could be anything from a house call to an emergency room visit.
Called My Generation at Home, the program is primarily for Healthcare Partners patients with Medicare (there are a few exceptions).
Get a Drive-Through Test
Healthcare Partners is also doing drive-through COVID-19 testing at its Wynn Road location, as are a few other providers. There are two problems: limited supplies of tests, and the need, in some cases, for a referral to be tested from a doctor. In most cases, an appointment is also required, so call before you go. Here are a few places doing curbside tests …
NOTE: This article was updated April 15, 2020, to remove Sahara West Urgent Care & Wellness' drive-up testing after the Nevada Department of Public and Behavioral Health issued a cease and desist order to the clinic.