Virtual medicine: a new way to go to the doctors office without leaving your home

One way to avoid germs when your sick is to avoid the doctor's office, but how do you do that if you need to see the doctor? By something called virtual medicine. 

While not many Americans use it now, this outbreak may change that. 

We all know what a traditional doctor visits looks like but now more than ever doctors are encouraging what they call telemedicine, which looks very different. 

Henry Ford family medicine doctor Dr. Daniel Passerman regularly practices virtual medicine, which means the patient calls from usually a smartphone and never has to actually leave the house. 

He says if you've never tried it - and it's estimated only 10 percent of Americans have - this might be the perfect time. 

"It works great and it allows people to get care that they need without the inconvenience of coming to the doctor's office, without the cost of coming to the doctor's office. It's a safer way and a more convenient way for patients to receive care," Dr. Passerman says. 

As I'm talking I can scroll through all her information. Labs.. etc.. 

For demonstration only, Shelby is playing the role of our patient. As Dr. Passerman video chats with her, he can scroll through her medications, labs and other personal information. 

Using virtual medicine, doctors can diagnose a wide variety of issues. Dr. Passerman expects to hear from plenty of concerned patients as the coronavirus spreads. 

"We're going to ask about travel history and if they've been in the potential for exposure and also symptoms, especially fever. In addition, we'll be looking for upper respiratory infection symptoms such as runny nose, cough. The confusing part is that it presents a lot like influenza," Dr. Passerman says. 

The doctor's response can vary. Sometimes they can call in a prescription or may tell you to come in for a visit. 

In the case of coronavirus, if the doctor is suspicious the patient's case will be referred to infectious disease doctors for the next step.  

If you're interested in telemedicine, check with your insurance provider. You can get more information on Henry Ford's program online here