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McLaren's new tele-health service is ideal for college students


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The McLarenNow app allows users to video chat with certified physicians. (Photo Illustration | Hunter McLaren)

Your body aches, the coughing is out of control and it’s the third day of missing classes. Homework is piling up and your roommates are concerned. Scheduling an appointment with CMU Health Services could take days. You have no idea what your insurance is or if it is compatible with Health Services. 

McLaren Health Care’s new tele-health service aims to utilize the technology you carry every day. For $49 per visit the McLarenNow app allows patients to video chat with a board-certified physician at a moment's notice.  

The app's purpose is to provide urgent care advice for minor illnesses, injuries and skin conditions without appointments, waiting rooms or hassle.  

Physicians can write prescriptions digitally and have it sent to the patients preferred pharmacy. Unless additional care is needed, McLarenNow eliminates insurance hassles with a one-time fee. 

The app serves anyone two-years-old or older and is especially applicable to college students, McLaren Director of Marketing and Fund Development Rachel Blizzard said. 

“College students are so busy," Blizzard said. “People are more comfortable through their phones. I think this is going to increase the amount of care being provided for everyone.” 

Incoming Connecticut freshman Maddie Costantio, expressed her confusion with the many health programs provided on campus. 

“On a crazy campus like this where everyone is on the move and doing things, it’s important for students to have a simple solution to health problems,” she said. “I feel like getting a diagnosis on the app would be less accurate but I'd still try it.” 

The following conditions can be identified and diagnosed using McLarenNow: 

  • Allergies 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Ear pain 
  • Influenza 
  • Minor burns/abrasions 
  • Rash 
  • Sore throat 
  • Vomiting/diarrhea 
  • Back pain 
  • Cough/cold 
  • Headache 
  • Insect bites/stings 
  • Pink eye 
  • Sinus problems 
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) - adult female 

“Instead of walking to the university clinic, you can be seen immediately. Our average wait time is less than three minutes,” Brooke Ervin, McLaren’s corporate manager of service lines, said. “I remember my days back in school, we had to go to the clinic and often got sent home to see a primary care doctor.” 

The app launched in January with a 30-day trial period offered to McLaren employees. Since March 1, it has expanded to the general public. Over 2000 people have downloaded the app since post-launch, Ervin said.

Providing your name and other demographic information is required, but McLaren emphasizes that the information remains confidential. This means the app meets all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) requirements. 

“The information is stored electronically, like ones in a physical office,” Ervin said. “We don’t share that information with anyone outside that system unless the patient requests the information to be shared."

The McLarenNow app can be downloaded onto Apple devices or accessed on Andriod at mclarennow.org

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