LAKE WORTH, Fla. — The past 12 months have brought on lots of new ways of practicing medicine.
Ricky Ramirez, a chief nursing officer for West Boca Medical Center, said Tele-ER is a new way to create community access by reaching emergency room physicians without having to come into the actual facility. He said the need became apparent.
"A little disturbing was that we continue to see patients delaying treatment and waiting to be seen in the emergency department, and there is almost irrational fear of coming to the hospital," Ramirez said.
Lanie Sherman recently used the service.
"I did have a bug bite," she said. "I was afraid to come to the hospital, but I knew that I needed to be seen, but I called and utilized them because my leg was getting larger and worse, swollen."
She said it saved her the initial exposure, and they guided her on when to go to the hospital after getting on antibiotics.
"I didn't have to go to a big ER. The waiting time was fantastic," Sherman. "I waited maybe five minutes, and I just felt more secure in that environment."
There are times when a digital visit with the doctor may not be enough. It's not a substitute for calling 911.
"If you sign in saying you are having chest pains or difficulty breathing, you are going to be told immediately this isn't for you. Go to the hospital," said Dr. David Sturm, an emergency room physician at Delray Medical Center.
On the flip side, doctors said this new service could save patients unnecessary emergency room visits. They do want it to be used as an evaluation tool.
"People who need refills for high blood pressure or cholesterol medications," he said as an example.
The service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a couple of off-campus emergency departments associated with the Palm Beach Health Network.
Doctors said the charge for the visit can be billed through insurance and described it as "affordable."