Think you might have the flu? Skip the waiting room with virtual care from Carena

Carena CEO Ralph C. Derrickson

Carena CEO Ralph C. Derrickson. Photo courtesy Carena MD.

Flu season is upon us, and let’s face it — when you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want to do is leave the comfort of your home to sit in a crowded, uncomfortable waiting room just to find out if you need treatment or not.

What if, instead, you could enter a virtual exam room, available 24/7, with just the touch of a button and video chat with a team of health professionals who can provide the proper treatment plan or referrals you need?

Virtual care may be the answer. Seattle-based telemedicine provider Carena is helping people across the state, including the Eastside, get care from the comfort of home — no long waits in overcrowded, infectious waiting rooms necessary.

“When you feel horrible, you want to stay home,” said Ralph Derrickson, Carena CEO. “Many people right now don’t feel well. It may be the flu or it may not be,” he said. “They need a 24/7 option with insight and information to build a care plan, or to help them if clinically appropriate. We can at least get them to the right place to get the care they need.”

Carena, which currently is used by health systems like Virginia Mason, UW Medicine, Molina Healthcare, and CHI Franciscan Health, makes it easy for patients to access care from home. Patients simply share their symptoms using a smart phone, computer, or tablet, and in just a few minutes they’re connected to experienced physicians or nurse practitioners in a video chat setting who can provide everything from diagnoses and treatment plans to referrals and more.


Virtual care visits allow patients to chat with a health professional from the comfort of home. Photo courtesy Carena MD.

Following the e-visit, patients are provided with an email summary of his or her visit, and Carena also automatically updates the patient’s medical records.

“The hope is to supplement health plans by adding technology and new service models but not to replace or change preexisting care methods, like in-person doctor’s visits,” Derrickson said. “Of course we don’t want doctors to stop doing great in-person care.”

Since the company was founded in 2000, Carena has partnered with more than 120 hospitals, offering virtual care to more than 15 million individuals. Additionally, Carena also has partnered with big companies like Boeing and Microsoft to make access to care easier for employees.

“It can be hard to go and get care, having to leave work, having to find time in your schedule, finding it difficult to connect with various health care providers,” Derrickson said. “Technology can improve doctor-patient relationships by giving everyone more ease of access. The hope is to eliminate scheduling limitations and other physical barriers. The opportunities are enormous.”