The last thing you want to do when you are sick is drag yourself out of bed, get dressed, get into the car, drive to the doctor’s office and wait. Wait times can swell to more than an hour, as you’re often seated in a crowded waiting room, all to see a doctor.
And you certainly don’t want to do that in a pandemic.
“Social distancing due to COVID-19 highlights the need for remote access programs such as TotalCare,” said one Global Rescue TotalCare member from Texas.
Virtual Visits First
As social distancing changes to self-isolation and mandatory quarantines, telehealth is quickly becoming the first line of defense against coronavirus, reports NBC News.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, telemedicine (also known as telehealth) is defined as “the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance.”
Although telehealth has been around for decades, it is seeing a resurgence of interest as the coronavirus spreads and grows worldwide. The CDC has long recommended telehealth for underserved and rural populations, encouraging usage of virtual visits at the start of the coronavirus epidemic. In mid-March, the U.S. government lifted restrictions of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries in an effort to slow the rate of infection.
What is TotalCareSM?
Four years ago, Global Rescue started offering TotalCare memberships to travelers who wanted immediate access to a team of medical experts for real-time video consultations and treatment.
But TotalCare garnered the interest of not just travelers — business executives, college students, retirees and families with children who also wanted a better option than waiting in an urgent care office or the emergency room.
In today’s busy world, it makes sense. If you’re feeling symptomatic, sick or you just have questions, a TotalCare membership provides an urgent care consult with a doctor without leaving the comfort of your home. In a pandemic situation, like coronavirus, telehealth services can help slow the spread of disease.
In five easy steps, here’s how a TotalCare membership works:
Step One: Call or Message
Whether you’re at home, at school, at work or in a hotel room, members can initiate a consultation at any time. All you need is access: an Internet connection or a smart phone.
“You can use TotalCare while you are traveling, or while you are at home. It’s there when you need it,” said David Koo, senior manager of operations at Global Rescue.
Step Two: Medical History
Your request is answered by an in-house Global Rescue operations team member, who will obtain your medical history and symptoms.
Step Three: Virtual Visit
After the clinical and situational information is relayed from the operations team, you are placed into a live video conference with a board-certified, licensed doctor from Elite Medical Group (EMG).
“The wait-to-connect time is usually less than 30 minutes,” said Dr. David Ashley, Associate Medical Director.
Telehealth services, not set up for consumer demand during a pandemic, are currently being swamped with calls. Requests at the University of Pennsylvania are coming in faster than the clinicians can answer them. Many telehealth companies report a 50% increase in demand.
But not with TotalCare. TotalCare was set up to help travelers all over the world, with Global Rescue in-house medical experts answering the initial call and EMG doctors providing the virtual care. The team is used to fielding a flood of requests.
Step Four: Prescriptions or Labs
Need a prescription? Board-certified doctors are licensed in all 50 states with the ability to prescribe medications and order labs or diagnostic imaging if needed.
Step Five: Continuous Care
Your care is not completed when you turn off the video or hang up the phone. The team follows your case to conclusion, taking care of any after-visit administrative needs and follow-up on doctor’s orders.
“The follow up was amazing,” said TotalCare member Linda Hanks. “I’ve had brain surgery and the doctor never called me after I went home to see if I woke up the next morning or to ask, ‘How are you doing?’”
“The doctor was able to identify my son’s skin condition and prescribe a cream for him to use,” said TotalCare member Christina Roth. “She even checked on us later.”
Coronavirus Questions Answered
There’s plenty of information available about how to prevent coronavirus — washing hands, social distancing, not touching your face — but less advice regarding what to do if you are contagious or sick. CDC recommendations suggest calling ahead before visiting a doctor’s office or avoiding the emergency room to limit exposure.
“This is where a TotalCare membership will be extremely helpful — providing immediate access to a team of medical experts who will answer all your questions, right from your home,” Dr. Ashley said.
TotalCare is the perfect solution for a member in Florida, who is worried about coronavirus symptoms.
“My rheumatologist said, during my visit two weeks ago, if I have symptoms, don’t call her — go to the ER. Now the media is a saying don’t go to the ER. TotalCare will be a great option if necessary.”