The Doctor Is In

How to Get A Medical Consultation Without Leaving Home


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In early June, Peter Martone of Norfolk was in a great deal of pain. It was the weekend, so reaching his doctor probably would have been a hassle—if his doctor would even accept a weekend call. And the thought of driving to an urgent care center and waiting with who-knows-how-many people only made Martone feel worse.

“I went to one last Fourth of July,” the 42-year-old shares. “I had to wait three hours while I was feeling awful.”

Martone’s wife came to his rescue this year. She suggested he call MDLIVE, a 24-hour, 365-day telehealth firm partnering with Sentara Healthcare, her employer. Anyone can talk with a Board-Certified physician via videoconference, phone or email. The fee is $45, which in many cases is less than a co-pay for an urgent care visit.

Martone decided to try it and called in. He was told he’d receive a call back, and he did within five minutes.

“I talked with the doctor over the phone for about 10 minutes,” Martone says. “He asked where my pain was, how long it was lasting and if it was on-and-off pain. He said I was suffering from kidney stones. I already had some medicine for stones, so I was able to take that (MDLIVE doctors can phone-in prescriptions if necessary). I felt better in a few days.”

Now he’s sold on the convenience of MDLIVE and plans to tell his guy friends.

“It’ll definitely save you time,” Martone says. “I’ll call rather than sit in some [urgent care] facility.”

Sentara announced its partnership with MDLIVE in August 2012. The Florida-based company formed in 2006 and partners with other health systems and employers. Doctors are recruited from throughout the country. Virginia patients may talk with Virginia doctors, and a few doctors from Sentara Medical Group are part of MDLIVE.

“We see it as a service for our community,” explains Kelly Hudgens, manager for new product initiatives at Sentara Healthcare. “We think men will particularly appreciate how quick and efficient it is. They can be back on track with less hassle.”

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