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Virtual Urgent Care Growing In Popularity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Are you not well but can't get a doctor's appointment for days, and you don't want to sit for hours in an emergency room?

Well, there's an app for that.

It's the growing trend of virtual urgent care.

First there was emergency rooms, then came urgent care centers - walk in clinics that take insurance - which are everywhere.

Even those aren't always convenient and the co-pays a can be a little high. So naturally, the next step is virtual urgent care on your phone or tablet.

It was just a few months ago that 25-year-old Corey Naschenzi's stomach started acted up.

"My stomach hurt, I was nauseous. I thought maybe it would pass," Naschenzi said.

But it didn't pass. She didn't want to spend hours in the ER.

That's when Corey remembered that NYU Langone Medical Center offered virtual urgent care.

She downloaded the app, made an appointment, entered some information to sign in and spoke with Dr. Viraj Lakdawala.

Corey and Dr. Lakdawala recreated their virtual doctor's visit for CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez, something that they can smile about now but couldn't in November.

"She looked unwell. She described symptoms that sounded like appendicitis," Dr. Lakdawala said.

Even though she didn't want to, she followed doctor's orders, went to the hospital, where they confirmed she did have appendicitis.

"They told me it might have burst," Naschenzi said.

That could've led to massive infection and even death.

Virtual urgent care centers are a growing trend. A number of medical centers have set them up, as have some standalone, doctor-on-demand apps.

They're convenient and co-pays are usually the same as an office visit, or sometimes less, although they they can vary in qualifications of the doctor you'll see and anything serious will still require a visit to an actual ER.

Emergency medicine physicians say they can do a lot with this kind of telemedicine.

"Do they look well, are they breathing fast, sweaty, fidgeting - 60-70 percent of what you need to make a decision," Dr. Lakdawala said.

In choosing your virtual urgent care app, see if the doctors are board certified in emergency medicine. They're trained to triage problems. Also, the NYU system now accepts children 12 and up, which is good for working parents who can't take time off to take their child to a doctor's appointment.

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