After the successful rollout of video visits in March, UT Health Physicians is now further expanding its digital footprint with the launch of On-Demand Urgent Care. This service provides patients with immediate access to convenient appointments and expert, reliable care for minor medical conditions directly through a computer, tablet or smartphone.

“Staying at the forefront of telemedicine is as crucial for our practice as it is for our patients,” said Ramon Cancino, MD, MS, FAAFP, medical director of primary care at UT Health Physicians.

Without the ability to have a virtual visit, many patients would delay necessary care due to fears of COVID-19 when leaving the house, Dr. Cancino said.

“The availability to have a video visit for chronic conditions and now urgent, minor conditions is not only convenient, but also necessary during this vulnerable time for our patients,” he said.

These online visits are intended for urgent, minor issues such as cold, headaches, abdominal pain, rashes and flu-like symptoms, said Joyce Yuen, MD, assistant professor and primary care physician at UT Health Shavano. Urgent care visits are not designed to replace regular doctor appointments, but for patients with a MyChart account, who already see a UT Health primary care provider, this type of appointment is doubly beneficial, she said.

“Because the patient’s primary care information is already in MyChart, if the urgent care provider determines that an issue needs a more in-depth exam, they are able to automatically schedule the patient for an appointment with their regular primary care physician,” Dr. Yuen said. “There is a thorough handoff process of detailed information, so we maintain a strong continuity of care.”

While providers are not able to refill prescriptions for controlled substances or chronic conditions through on-demand visits, physicians can write prescriptions for whatever diagnosis is made during the video visit, she said.

However, just like any other urgent care visit, these on-demand appointments are not designed to replace regular primary care.

“Having a personal primary care physician who knows you and understands your complex medical issues and your life story is still important even though we have this as an option,” Dr. Cancino said. “This type of visit is really meant for acute issues.”

It is advised that patients call their regular primary care doctor first, just in case same-day appointments are available.

“When same day appointments aren’t available, that’s when people usually go to urgent care,” said Dr. Cancino. “And that’s where this on-demand, online service really makes a difference.”

On-Demand Urgent Care is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Appointments are covered by insurance, just as a regular primary care appointment would be. For those without insurance, or not wishing to use their insurance, the cost is $125.

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