30 May 2012

The wrong services at the wrong time?: Triage at home with FreeMD**

Two months: that's almost how long it's been since my last post (!)  I can excuse it because not only did I get married but I, like many other brides I've since spoken to since, came down with a pretty nasty cold the day after (thank goodness the honeymoon wasn't til later).  It's strange how the most common ailment can be so hard to diagnose: was it simply stress, an actual bug I caught, or has something more sinister been brewing for some time?  I took the worst days off of work, because I was determined not to remain sick for our honeymoon, and while the worst is definitely over I still have this strange nagging cough that rears its ugly head at random times and for no apparent reason.

Despite my plethora of resources in front of me there's only so much information I can get back for "annoying, random cough with no other sickly symptoms" :).   A quick search in Google, and I kid you not, my random cough is apparently typhus ha!  That's not to say there's not good info out there but really, typhus?!  I'd be running for the nearest emergency room if my sensible little shoulder-doctor (who replaced my shoulder angel a while back) didn't assure me this couldn't be true.  But what happens when weighing in on the other shoulder is my resident  hypochondriac (obviously a replacement for my shoulder-devil) whispering in my ear that: "well there was that one case in Texas just a few days ago"?  Well it's back to the emergency room for me!
However, what if I had a tool to check my symptoms better than a simple Google search, or perusing the posting boards filled with people who are clearly being brow-beaten by their shoulder-hypochondriacs.  FreeMD.com does just that.  It's a tool created, authored, and run by qualified physicians that walks you step by step through a series of questions that arise based on your answers.  An actual emergency physician Dr. Schueler accompanies you via pre-recorded video to help you along.  At the end of the 'triage' you receive some possible suggestions about what your symptoms may mean, you are given an option for care (urgent care, doctor's office, emerg. or dentist) and you also have the option to print a copy of your online triage to take with you to your healthcare provider (which may help clarify some items when giving their own triage). 

It's a great and fun tool that may save your patients from utilizing the wrong services at the wrong time.  Don't get me wrong it's not perfect:  I answered questions for elbow pain and had an option of elbow cellulitis which I can almost guarantee I don't have; nevertheless, I was also given the option of elbow bursitis...which I actually do have!  I was then advised to visit my doctor's office instead of urgent care or the emergency and have a paper copy of my online checkup so I don't blank when I'm hit with twenty questions in person.

Check out these different checkups offered: Symptom, Injury, Disease, Women's, Men's, Pregnancy and Baby!

**Just remember to clarify this with any patients that this is a supplementary tool not a replacement of actual medical care!

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