Even the most careful of vacation plans rarely take into consideration what to do in case of unexpected illness or injury. While serious accidents and health emergencies require immediate in-person medical attention, many—including sunburn, food poisoning, sinus or urinary infections, or the flu—can often be conveniently and appropriately addressed through remote consultation with a telehealth medical professional qualified to dispense advice and prescribe treatments.
To offer guests from outside the area an alternative to an office or hospital visit under those circumstances, The Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort in Sunny Isles, Fla., is among those that have partnered with Memorial Healthcare System to offer a new inroom service for hotel guests who do not have a family doctor within reach or who otherwise wish to avoid a visit to a hospital or doctor’s office when they become unexpectedly in need of medical attention during their visit to the property.
According to Bill Manzie, administrative director of Telehealth Strategy for Memorial Healthcare System, MemorialDOCNow is an application offered by the Memorial Healthcare System that allows the community to connect with physicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week for non-emergency care. Although the application was not specifically developed for out-of-towners, he says, “Memorial is geographically located in one of the largest tourist destinations in the country, so it only made sense to begin looking at this visiting population as part of our community.”
“Thanks to this partnership, out-of-state and international guests at resorts such as The Newport Beachside Hotel can use a device equipped with a camera, speakers, and a microphone to virtually chat with a physician about nonemergency, minor medical concerns from the convenience and privacy of their resort room,” explains Manzie. During the video consultation, he says, doctors view patients and ask questions regarding current symptoms and medical history before making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. The affiliated physicians associated with the Memorial application, he says, are specifically trained in providing such clinical telehealth services, which are limited to evidencebased medicine, not emergencies.
In appropriate cases, this service offers both convenience and peace of mind to travelers who can receive the care they need without unnecessarily derailing the plans of their travel companions.
Although the application is free for guests, Manzie specifies that guests who actually access the service are charged a $59 medical service fee for the consultation. However, he adds, “If the provider feels that the patient is not appropriate to be seen with telehealth, the fee is refunded and the patient is urged to seek care at the nearest urgent care center or emergency department.” The service fee does not include reimbursement by health insurance brands, but is generally comparably priced to standard medical copays, says Manzie.
The hotel has made information about MemorialDOCNow available on its website and on rack cards. Guest-facing staff such as concierge, valet, and front-desk staff, too, are knowledgeable about the service and can assist guests who want to use it. Marketing materials provide information about the service and list the conditions that are covered.
Susanne Hurowitz, the owner of the Newport Beachside Hotel, stresses that in appropriate cases, this service offers both convenience and peace of mind to travelers who can receive the care they need without unnecessarily derailing the plans of their travel companions and family members. “Having 24-hour access to a physician who can prescribe medicine when needed can improve the travel experience immensely when a hotel guest is not feeling well and needs medical support,” she says.