We recently had a chance to sit down with Dr. Norm Estin, Medical Director of DOCNOW to learn about a new medical service on Maui which puts your guests in immediate two-way video contact with an urgent care doctor right over a laptop, tablet, or phone. Many of you may know Dr. Estin from his 30 years of work as Medical Director of the Doctors On Call Urgent Care locations on the West Side.
TMC: Tell us about this new service for Maui’s visitors. How did you come up with the idea?
Dr. Estin: We see so many visitors and residents in our Doctors On Call offices that have easy problems to solve. Many can be helped with quick simple advice and a prescription, something that really doesn’t need a visit to the office.
TMC: That makes sense, guests often have easy to fix problems and they spend a whole day or more waiting for an appointment, at the pharmacy, losing valuable vacation time. It can take hours.
Dr. Estin: You’re right! I compare it to a coffee-to-go. Let’s say you just want a cup of coffee, and you don’t have all day. Why should you have to go to a restaurant, make a reservation, wait in line, then have to read a menu or listen to a waiter and the specials of the day just to get that cup of coffee to go? It doesn’t make sense. Let’s say you need a simple prescription, or have a common problem like a sore throat or UTI or allergy flare up or a rash. Why should you have to be sent to doctors office, wait for who-knows-how-long in a room with sick, coughing strangers, go through a whole exam, just to pay a huge amount and then have to go to the pharmacy anyway?
TMC: So you are offering a quick and easy doctors visit.
Dr. Estin: Yes. It’s a secure 2-way private video chat, that is HIPAA compliant. You’re face-to-face with the doctor, and then you’re off to get better and enjoy Maui.
TMC: Who are your doctors?
Dr. Estin: They are the exact same Urgent Care and Family Medicine physicians and PAs that staff our offices. I see patients on-line with DOCNow myself. I can see someone and help them out in just a couple of minutes, and they are in the comfort and privacy of their hotel or condo. We often have people just hop on their iPhone from a hotel lobby or even a pharmacy to connect quickly. As a matter of fact, many pharmacies are recommending us. Of course, we can’t take care of every medical problem this way; many times patients have to come in or be seen in an office to be evaluated and we tell them that. But a lot can be done with a simple telemedicine check like this.
TMC: How about the paperwork / insurance?
Dr. Estin: The on-line registration is simple. An email address, a password, a bit of demographic info, etc. It is as real as an in-office visit, with a secure medical record, and medical insurance accepts it completely as well.
TMC: What types of medical insurance?
Dr. Estin: The DOCNOW VideoVisit is covered by HMSA, UHA, HMA, HMAA, or mainland BlueCross/BlueShield. Or if someone doesn’t have an insurance we can take, it is only $49 for the video visit.
TMC: How do you keep it so affordable?
Dr. Estin: We set the price low so that people can easily see a Hawai‘i doctor who understands typical local problems, knows the pharmacies, and can refer the patient to the right office, specialist, or even hospital ER if it’s not something that can be treated over the VideoVisit. We are open from 8am-9pm, everyday, 365 days a year.
TMC: How can concierge and guest service professionals use your service?
Dr. Estin: They can now offer an easy solution to common problems that can save a guest’s vacation. For instance, many guests are reluctant to book boat trips, dinner cruises, or helicopter tours for fear of motion sickness; we can prescribe in a few minutes the Transderm patch which works much better than pills or wristbands, and the problem is solved. Or we can easily diagnose and treat almost all skin rashes and problems (we can SEE them with the video!) and help get that guest back in the water. Many Canadian visitors are also used to getting over-the-counter medicine that require a prescription here. DOCNow can help. Visit our webpage to see a list of example cases.
TMC: What equipment does a guest need?
Dr. Estin: Any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and a wifi connection. That’s all! All the info and details and FAQs are on our website,.