LITTLE ROCK, Ark. β€” Cold and flu season are in full swing, and if you're feeling under the weather, medical care might be just a click away.

This week, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) began offering 24-hour, digital health access through its UAMS HealthNow platform.

Using two-way live video, the service allows Arkansans to connect with a UAMS nurse practitioner on their smartphone, tablet or computer.

"We hope that this really acts as a service to encourage people to get healthcare when they need it and to make it easier for them," Stacy Petty, HealthNow program director, said.

Petty says the service is for routine medical issues that would typically be treated by a primary care doctor or at an urgent care center.

"If we think they need an x-ray or lab or need to be seen more emergently then we would instruct them to go somewhere they can receive those services," she said.

Through this program, UAMS hopes to reach people who don't live near a clinic or hospital.

β€œIn many cases, we expect people in underserved rural areas may be able to avoid making a long, late-night drive to a hospital Emergency Department or waiting hours to see a physician,” UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said in a news release.

The cost of each appointment is $55. UAMS HealthNow will not bill insurance.

Dr. Curtis Lowery, director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health, anticipates the program will evolve to include in-home monitoring and routine doctor appointments.

"It's the beginning of the future of healthcare delivery which is focusing on the patient and providing what the patients need when they need it," Lowery said.

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