House Call: Laptops, smartphones now bring doctor’s office straight to you
You have a cold and can’t get into see your primary care provider. What do you do? You grab your laptop or smartphone and see a physician within minutes without leaving the comfort of your home.
In September, Northern Arizona Healthcare and PathfinderHealth partnered with American Well − a leading telehealth technology services company − to bring BeWellNow to the communities they serve. This virtual urgent care option allows people with non-emergency illnesses – cold, flu, rashes, abdominal pain, sinusitis, pinkeye, ear infection or migraine – to “visit” with a board-certified physician via secure, live-video stream from wherever they might be.
“NAH invested in BeWellNow to help improve the health of people in our communities,” said Gigi Sorenson, NAH director of Telemedicine. “BeWellNow allows consumers to get the urgent care they need quickly without having to visit one of our emergency departments for ailments such as cough, cold or flu. This service is available to anyone, regardless of whether you live in Arizona or are a patient of NAH.”
Emergency department visits for non-emergency illness are costly to all parties involved – the patient, the hospital and the insurance company. BeWellNow, priced at $49 per visit paid directly by the patient at the time of visit – is a more affordable option.
“The cost of healthcare in the United States is partially attributed to people seeking and receiving a higher level of care than is needed to meet their needs,” said NAH President and CEO Robert P. Thames, F.A.C.H.E., F.H.F.M.A. “In rural areas, such as ours, there are a limited number of primary care providers, so getting into see one quickly can be a challenge. Before launching BeWellNow, the emergency department was the only option for people at times.”
By redirecting patients to the appropriate level of care, emergency resources are available to those who truly need them.
“It frees up our EDs for real emergencies while giving our patients access to care more quickly and at a much lower cost,” Sorenson explained.
Sorenson first used the service herself while experiencing symptoms during a trip to Washington, D.C.
Each BeWellNow physician is board-certified and part of American Well’s nationwide network of physicians. Some of these physicians work solely for this service, while others work in clinics or their own practices.
Before choosing a physician, you can access their profiles and introductory video for information regarding their education; experience and location, as well as which languages they speak.
In addition, each physician lists his or her wait time, or you may simply opt to see the first available provider.
Once you connect with a provider, he or she can prescribe medications as needed; make referrals for specialty care; provide follow-up care recommendations; and even conduct a physical exam –in her case, Sorenson said, the physician asked her to shine her smartphone’s flashlight down her throat.
BeWellNow is not intended as a substitute for primary care. After the BeWellNow session ends, patients are encouraged to follow up with their primary care providers as soon as possible.
Eventually, PathfinderHealth physicians will be a part of the BeWellNow network.
Each 20-minute visit costs a flat rate of $49, regardless of your health insurance coverage. If you have health insurance, talk to your insurance provider about how the cost might go toward your deductible or be eligible for payment through a health savings account. Also, if your BeWellNow physician tells you to go to the emergency department for immediate care, you will not be charged for the BeWellNow visit.
BeWellNow is convenient when you aren’t able to see your primary care provider – you may be traveling, or too sick or busy to go in for an office visit. BeWellNow physicians are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can choose a physician based on his or her wait time, or make an appointment to have the physician call you at your convenience. You can also make a follow-up appointment.
After each BeWellNow visit, you will receive a summary of your visit via email, which can also be emailed to your primary care provider.
Sign up for BeWellNow online at
NAHealth.com/BeWellNow or use the Apple store or Google Play on your smart phone or tablet.
For more information about BeWellNow, visit NAHealth.com/BeWellNow.