My First Virtual Urgent Care Visit

The robot will see you now: Imagining a virtual urgent care experience.

Now you can see the doctor from almost anywhere. NYU Langone is offering patients access to our world-class emergency medicine doctors right from your phone or tablet. Just like an in-person visit, our board-certified NYU Langone doctors can review your medical records, evaluate symptoms, order lab tests and prescriptions, and more. – Email Blast, NYU Langone

virtual urgent care robot doctorVideo Doc:                

(chipperly) Welcome to World-Class Medical Care Online!

Patient:                       

What an awesome (coughing) idea! Anything to avoid coming into direct contact with real people.

Video Doc:                

Did I hear you say you’re contagious? Not to worry—I don’t even have to wash my hands before virtually examining you. Please text me your name, birth date, and recent WebMD browsing history.

Patient:                       

I’m down. (inserts emoji with medical mask)

Video Doc:                

Did you say you fell down? My Wi-Fi connection’s a bit spotty. Let me walk over toward the window.

Patient:                       

IMHO, good thing this isn’t an emergency. I’ve been waiting for an hour—while browsing spa photos on Instagram. You could virtually die before visiting a virtual urgent care doctor.

Video Doc:                

We only treat non-emergency health issues. Dying is not one of them. Can I help you with something else?

Patient:                       

I have an annoying AF cough. I probably have a fever but ignored my germ phobic mom’s advice to buy a thermometer. And I have this bizarre abdominal pain.

Video Doc:                

Wow, you sound like a hot mess! But we only treat “minor” abdominal pain here.

Patient:                       

I’m sure I cracked a rib from coughing.

Video Doc:

(superciliously) Let me do the diagnosing, please.

Patient:                       

And my sinuses are killing me.

Video Doc:                

Did you say you have thoughts of suicide? Awfully noisy in here with those annoying ambulances outside.

Patient:

(incredulously) No, but can you overdose on Nyquil?

Video Doc:                

Suicide and Drug Addiction are not covered in Virtual Urgent Care.

Patient:                       

(whining) It’s Day 20 of the Fucking Virus That Never Goes Away. If I blow off any more sick days, I’m gonna get fired.

Video Doc:                

Can I transfer you to Workman’s Comp?

Patient:                       

I just want to get better already! My friends have abandoned me because they don’t want to catch my plague! I haven’t been to a bottomless Bloody Mary brunch in three weeks! (crying)

Video Doc:                

Are you sure you’re not suicidal?

Patient:                       

Are you sure you’re not a bot?

Video Doc:                

Sounds like you’re out of Xanax, friend. Regretfully, I can’t prescribe controlled substances online.

Patient:                       

(hyperventilating) On top of everything, I also have this scary-weird rash on my face.

Video Doc:                

I went to medical school and lifelong debt for this? I’m trained in ER medicine, blood and oozing guts and exciting near-fatal gun injuries. If you’ve been shot, call 911. Stat.

Patient:                       

The closest I’ve been to a gun is watching Dunkirk on Demand.

Video Doc:                

Bring your face near your mobile device….not that close, too blurry…Holy moly it does look awfully gross…Rats, I clicked on something and cut off the video. Let me call tech support. I can do a trach in 30 seconds flat, but when it comes to technology…(screen goes blank)

Patient:                       

(to self) This is worse than trying to Facetime my inept grandparents. (redialing)

New Video Doc:        

Welcome to World-Class Medical Care Online! Please text me the emoji that most represents what you are feeling right now.

Patient:                       

(inserts screaming face emoji). I’d like to report my last Virtual Doctor. He didn’t know how to listen.

New Video Doc:        

All our Nurturing Care Specialists Who Really Listen are serving other extra-needy invalids. Would you like to leave a number and one of our friendly staff members will    call you back within 72 hours?

Patient:

He might have been an okay doc, but he was clueless about technology.

New Video Doc:        

So it’s IT you want? Who’s your health care provider?

Patient:                       

“Who” can’t be a health care provider.

New Video Doc:        

Grammar isn’t covered on your plan. Nor is punctuation.

Patient:                       

(inserts loudly crying face emoji)

New Video Doc:        

You sound awful. Have you seen a doctor lately?

Patient:                       

I’ll just go to CVS and get more Sudafed.

New Video Doc:        

It’s easier to buy a gun than Sudafed. (laughing). Let me send you a prescription for something with an even higher dose of pseudoephedrine. Not enough to make meth, mind you. Do you have Amazon Prime? If not, I’ll waive the shipping.     

Patient:                       

(hanging up) (redialing)

Patient:                       

Hello, Mom?

Mom:                         

Hi, darling. About time I heard from you.

Patient:                       

(kicking feet on floor in tantrum) Mom, I’m really really sick, and you’re the only one who can cure me. Can you bring me some chicken soup?

Mom:                         

You want me to slave all day on a hot stove, then chill the soup and remove the fat, throw it in a Tupperware, and schlep on three buses and a broken-down subway to your fifth floor walk-up in a neighborhood that scares me to death?

Patient:                       

What if I pay for an Uber?

Mom:                         

Well…it is the universal cure.

Patient:                       

Did you say universal health care? I told you to vote for Bernie.

Mom:                         

And if you wore real socks, like normal people, you wouldn’t be sick. And…oh, by the way, did you ever take out that Extended Mother Care policy like I     told you? My options changed when you turned 26. I’m done mothering for free. Hold on, I’ll transfer you–

(busy signal)

(new menu options)

Bot:                            

We are experiencing a high volume of calls. All of our super-friendly and unbelievably patient Earth Mother Reps are making chicken soup.

(screen goes blank)

Patient:                       

(Googling Seamless)

Seamless:                   

Your Favorite Mothers Delivered Right To Your Door! Ordering is even easier than popping a pill. Most Ordered Moms in Your Neighborhood, priced from low to high:                                

(1) secular Jewish with take-out diner matzo ball soup and a side of cozy blanket hand-knitted with love by someone’s immigrant grandmother

(2) Italian with bone broth ditalini, parmesan, oregano, chased down with a bottle of Chianti Classico (proof of age required)

(3) Wasp with plain consommé, two tiny white toast points, and a gift card for a tennis lesson at the country club of your choice when you are up and at ’em again.

The Delivery: Get the door and enjoy your favorite curative surrogate mother. Venmo now accepted. To your health!

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Candy Schulman is a nationally recognized writer, professor and college essay coach. She has published hundreds of personal essays, humor pieces, and articles in leading print and online publications.