Virtual doctor visits on the rise amid flu epidemic

An increasing number of people are seeking out virtual health care options that allow you to get a flu diagnosis -- and in some cases, even a prescription for Tamiflu -- from your smartphone.
5:20 | 01/24/18

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Transcript for Virtual doctor visits on the rise amid flu epidemic
begun with the latest on the flu epidemic getting worse. The CDC says there have been nearly 9,000 confirmed flu-related hospitalizations. That is almost double, double the number at this point last year and this is really taxing the hospitals. That's right, hospitals and medical offices filling up with people suffering from the flu and fears spreading are on the rise so patients and doctors are turning to a high-tech solution, office visits without the office. As more people get sick, the risk of infection growing, hospitals with E.R. Beds overflowing now canceling elective surgeries to keep beds available for new flu patients, plus, Tamiflu and I. Vicious bag shortages and hospital staff working overtime. People are definitely working over and doing double shifts coming in extra days. There's definitely staffing issues throughout the hospital especially with as full as we have been. Reporter: With some doctors urging people not to flood the E.R. Unless they are really sick and some patients worried they may catch something if they do. Virtual doctor visits are booming. Patients getting a flu diagnosis and in some cases even Tamiflu prescriptions right from their smartphone? We can send it directly to your pharmacy and pick it up within 30 minutes. Reporter: New york-presbyterian hospital has nyp on-demand virtual care. This is an intimate encounter one-on-one with the patient versus being in a cowed emergency department or waiting for hours in a doctor's office. Reporter: The doctor on demand app costs $75 for a 15-minute consultation for the uninsured and can treat a range of non-emergency conditions. This flu season has been big for them. Because this has been such a big flu season, we've seen over 100% increase in our total visit volume, about 1 in 5 of our cases are actually flu-related cases or cold-related cases and so they end up getting a prescription with Tamiflu. Reporter: Too sick to leave home when they are 2-year-old got sick Lisa used an Uber like app called to send a doctor to her home. This is so convenient. We can just stay home. It was just so easy. As you saw these apps are not free but all tell us they work with insurance companies, doctors on demand, $75 as you heard in the piece says they work with large and small plans and nyp on demand costs $99 but insured patients may be able to submit a claim and get reimbursed., costs 99 bucks and accepts many ppo plans. Good idea if you have insurance to check with your carrier beforehand and see if you're covered. One more thing that's not said enough it is not too late to get your flu shots. I took my daughters and got our wonder woman bandaids. If you haven't got your, get yours now. Dr. Amy and now Dr. Jen and you've been saying it's not too late. Great to see the girls like that. People want to know, Jen, so many questions people have. If you get the flu and recover, is it one and done or can you get it again? So, yes and no. You cannot get reinfected with the same strain and over 80% of the circulating train this year is that type a, h3n2. Your body makes antibodies but you can get infected with another strain less likely but it is possible. And when can you spread the flu? Even when you don't have symptoms? This is the important thing, George. You can be contagious one day before your symptoms start so you could be at work and sfhool and infect others and your symptoms can last up to seven days after they begin so people might start to feel better day five, go back to work or school and be contagious so keep those numbers in mind. Okay, but how do you know if you have the flu or just have a cold? That's the million dollar question so I want to you look at this graphic. One of my favorite things, the Venn diagram and overlap in sim, cough, runny nose, sore throat. The key thing with the flu its sudden onset and comes on fast. You tend to see high fevers and those symptoms go below the neck, body ache, chest pain, all of that so it's pretty impressive. Can I ask another question. My little daughter got a sudden fever, we did the swab. We took her to the doctor and tested negative. Remember, there are other circulating viruses that can give you fever and not everyone with the flu develops these severe symptoms so some people can have mild symptoms, think it's just a coal and go to work and school and infect others. How effective are the flu shots I just got. Two weeks before you get full protection. Two weeks. There is some data people start to see some immune benefit in a week. We won't know the efficacy of this year's flu shot until after but it's appearing to be around 30%. 30% better than 0%. You know, Lara hasn't been feeling well and she decided to come in today and our executive producer took one look at her and said go home and -- We have a smart executive producer and hat's off to Lara for going home. She has a job where she can go home and still get paid. A lot of people -- not the case -- The bosses have to step up. Our same executive producer we sent home last week. You're right. True. Thank you, Jen.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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