How Telemedicine and Primary Care Work Together

Family taking a virtual care appointment from the comforts of their home.  

What you need to know:

  • At CHRISTUS Health, your family doctor and On Demand Care clinician can easily collaborate and access your past treatments to create an optimal treatment plan for you.
  • Benefits of virtual and primary care working together include immediate access to health care records and seamless integration.
  • Virtual care fills gaps in care by providing quick access to care, which is then shared with the primary care physician.

Telemedicine can enhance your level of care with your family physician

Let's say you have a urinary tract infection and get treatment through On Demand Care, CHRISTUS Health's on-call clinicians who treat you virtually.

However, you're a senior, and these infections can be more complex as you age. The On Demand Care clinician asks you questions to understand your medical history and any prior treatments for UTIs.

And because you have a CHRISTUS Health family doctor, your virtual clinician can access your medical records through a shared and secure system.

In the past or through another health system, this patient may not be able to get seen at all, said On Demand Care Clinician, Patrick Ayarzagoitia. However, On Demand Care fills a needed gap to be seen quickly to get what they need, but then also, in the bigger picture, allows that primary care physician to go back and look and see what was done.

CHRISTUS Health is growing its ability to share patient information with other CHRISTUS doctors securely. With new communication abilities from MyCHRISTUS, doctors can access patient information from other providers for better-coordinated treatment.

This helps to prevent gaps in getting care. Your family doctor, who is here to navigate your overall health, can see your health concerns and how your virtual care clinician provides care and, if needed, can make recommendations.


Patients are taking a hybrid approach to their health

Patients have increasingly opted for a hybrid approach to their health care, combining the convenience of telehealth with the personal touch of traditional family medicine.

As an example, a patient might wake up feeling badly and can't go to work.

They need to get back on their feet soon because of work and family obligations. They may call their family doctor for an appointment. However, their family doctor already has a full schedule for the day.

This patient gets treatment from On Demand Care, which offers clinician visits in under 30 minutes for minor illnesses. (See the top 10 illnesses you can treat with On Demand Care.)

Unlike standalone virtual care companies, CHRISTUS virtual care is linked to your family doctor through shared, secure records and communication. This offers advantages many other virtual care options lack. Because it's integrated with your existing health profile, your records are available, prescriptions can be sent instantly, and even lab tests can be ordered.

"We use MyCHRISTUS, a secure software that makes it easy to see someone's medical record and what kind of primary care they're receiving," Ayarzagoitia said.

Most importantly, your family doctor is updated on your clinical visit for seamless care.


Primary Care vs. Virtual Care

What are the differences between the two levels of care?

Primary Care

First, primary care is the cornerstone of health management, offering comprehensive, continuous care that spans preventive services, chronic disease management, and complex health issues. It's the patient's first point of contact, where a lasting patient-provider relationship is built.

  • Provides comprehensive, continuous health management.
  • Builds long-term relationships with patients.
  • Manages chronic conditions and complex health issues.

Virtual Care

Virtual care provides timely access to health care services, especially during off-hours or when in-person appointments are unavailable. This model is particularly beneficial for addressing non-emergency medical issues, ensuring patients receive prompt care without unnecessary delays.

  • Offers immediate, convenient access to health care services.
  • Ideal for non-emergency medical issues and quick follow-ups.
  • Relies on telecommunication technology.

The Synergy

  • At CHRISTUS Health, virtual care ensures continuity by linking the patient back to the CHRISTUS primary care provider.
  • Both care models access patients' files, enabling informed, coordinated care.


Feature Telemedicine Primary Care
Type of care Immediate, on-demand Preventive, ongoing
Best for Minor illnesses, follow-ups, medication refills Chronic conditions, complex issues, physical exams, lab tests
Convenience High (available 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., accessible from Texas and Louisiana) Varies (appointments often required, limited hours)
Cost Usually lower than in-person visits Can be higher, especially for uninsured patients
Building relationships Limited Strong emphasis on long-term patient-doctor relationship
Technology required Smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet access In person and virtual

4 Benefits of Telemedicine and Primary Care Working Together

Understanding the differences allows you to make better choices about your health. However, understanding the benefits of how they work together helps you receive even more comprehensive care.

While there are many differences between virtual care and primary care, there's also a way for the two to work together, On Demand Care clinician Rincy Panicker said.

1. Immediate Access to Health Care Services

On Demand Care, CHRISTUS Health's virtual care service, provides patients with immediate access to medical advice and treatment, particularly for minor ailments or when waiting for a primary care appointment isn't feasible. This rapid access helps alleviate the burden on primary care services, allowing them to focus on more complex or chronic health issues.

2. Seamless Integration with Primary Care

Virtual care works with primary care by sharing patient health records and communication between virtual care providers and primary care physicians. This shared access ensures that virtual care is an extension of primary health care, maintaining continuity and comprehensive patient care.

3. Expanded Health Care Reach

Virtual services like On Demand Care extend the reach of primary care, making health care more accessible, especially for patients in remote areas or those with mobility challenges. It allows for health care delivery beyond traditional settings, ensuring patients receive care when and where they need it.

4. Ordering Diagnostic Tests: Seamless Information Sharing

Virtual care providers at CHRISTUS Health can order necessary diagnostic tests and have access to the results, thanks to the interconnected systems. This capability allows them to make informed decisions and recommendations, ensuring the patient's care is uninterrupted and cohesive.

Why On Demand Care is Different

Unlike standalone virtual care companies, Demand Care is linked to your family doctor through shared, secure records and communication. This offers advantages many other virtual care options lack.

For example, CHRISTUS Health's On Demand Care gives you a clinician visit in under 30 minutes, but it doesn't stop there. Because it's integrated with your existing health profile, your records are available, prescriptions can be sent instantly, and even lab tests can be ordered.

When choosing virtual care:

  • Take advantage of the convenience of telemedicine, but also be prepared to see your provider in person if needed.
  • Be sure to communicate your needs and expectations to your provider, and ask questions if you don't understand something.
  • Patients ages five and older can be treated.

Try On Demand Care

See an urgent care clinician in under 30 minutes without the need to schedule a visit.

Cost without insurance $30.

Services are available to patients aged five and up located in Texas or Louisiana.

See Conditions Treated with On Demand Care

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