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Healthcare As Close As Your Smartphone... And Quick

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Colds. Flu. Cedar fever.

It's the sniffling, sneezing, beware-the-very-air season when everyone seems to be fighting off something.

"I knew from past experience it was either flu or strep," says Vanessa Hawkins of her 12-year-old son's recent illness.

She says she was still at work when he came home sick, so she needed care that was quick. And convenient.

"I didn't want to get him out of the house, especially with him being lethargic, pale, and did not feel good," recalls Hawkins. "He did not want to get out of bed. He (the virtual care app provider) was able to connect with us while he was sitting comfortably on his couch from home."

Hawkins' employer, Children's Health, developed a mobile app that allows patients access to care from anywhere. Initially tested with staff, the app is now available to the community.

"It is all of those non-emergency room issues," says Tamara Perry who worked on the development team. "You can do urinary tract infections, conjunctivitis, anything you can see, ear, nose, throat, allergies, cold, any of those winter illnesses."

Perry is also a parent who has turned to the app for care.

"You know, parents like the peace of mind that they don't have to grab a child and go to a facility, a brick and mortar building, a hospital if they don't need to," says Perry. "If you need to, yeah, we want you here. Otherwise, see a provider, virtually. It works. The visit takes less than 15 minutes and that's less time than it takes to get your clothes on and get into the car, right?"

Perry says getting care to families faster, helps limit the spread of illnesses like the flu.

Children's Health Nurse Practitioner Ken Dakin
Children's Health Nurse Practitioner Ken Dakin (CBS 11)

"If you're feeling the onset of those flu-like symptoms, or you're around someone you know has had the flu, and you're starting to feel the effects: the cough, the congestion, feeling just achy and tired, make a visit," says Ken Dakin, a Children's Health Nurse Practitioner and often the face and voice delivering virtual care. "It's just as simple as getting on your phone, downloading the app, and you can typically be seen in 10 minutes or so."

Hawkins says she even took advantage of a feature that allowed her to conduct the virtual visit on a three way video call. She and her husband were both able to see and hear the diagnosis and plan for care, saying the virtual visit worked great.

"It was wonderful," says Hawkins. "I would say 'trust them', they know the questions to ask."

The flat fee for the virtual care visit is $55 and is covered by insurance the same as those to the doctor's office.

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