Thinking outside the Pillbox: Zoom’s In-Clinic Medications Offer Convenience without the Cost

Food delivery, car services, those ridiculously expensive mini-bar peanuts: We’re used to convenience coming at a premium. Indeed, most of us are of the mindset that “if it’s easy, it must cost a fortune—if it’s a good deal, there must be a catch.”

Americans spend over $177 billion a year on services that make life easier, but what if saving time didn’t have to sabotage our bank accounts? That’s the idea behind ZOOM+Care’s in-clinic medication dispensing program, which helps us provide quick, convenient relief to our patients. 

Our ZOOM+Care clinics stock 100+ common, over-the-counter and prescription medicines. In most instances, you can walk out with your meds in hand—that means no more driving to the pharmacy and waiting for your prescription to be filled. (If we don’t carry your prescription in-clinic, no problem. We can fill it at our central pharmacy, and have it delivered to your home or office.) 

The best part? There’s no catch. In this case, convenience really doesn’t come at a cost. Half of our prescription medications are $10 or less, and 5 out of 6 are under $20. We carry generics, which means there’s no brand name markup, and we have no relationship to big pharma. 

Long story short, ZOOM+Care’s pharmacy programs are just another way we deliver on our promise of it Twice-Half-Ten: twice the health, half the price, ten times the delight. 

We sat down with Thad Mick, our VP of Pharmaceutical Programs & Diagnostic Services, to learn more about why our unique approach to pharmacy is so important, and how it saves our patients time, money, and a whole lot of stress. 

ZOOM+Care's pharmacy antibiotics

Convenience and cost aren’t just nice things to have—they’re actually really, really important when it comes to medications. Can you explain why? 

Sure! Believe it or not, nonadherence to prescribed medications is responsible for anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of all hospitalizations. Around 20 percent to 30 percent of all prescribed medications go unfilled. 

As we evaluate why patients choose not to fill their prescriptions, there are several reasons. Cost is a major obstacle. If the co-pay of a drug is $50 or more, adherence drops. Access is another deterrent. Getting the prescription filled may be too complicated, or too much of challenge in someone’s busy day-to-day life.  

The goal of ZOOM+Care’s pharmacy program is to educate, inform, and make medications as accessible and affordable as possible. We want to remove yet another barrier to patients getting the treatment they need. 

We carry over 100 common medications in our clinics, so patients can walk out the doors with their prescriptions in hand. What about the less common medications? Can ZOOM+Care take care of those prescriptions as well? 

Absolutely. We have a central pharmacy that provides all of our unit-of-use medications. 

A little bit of context here: Each of our clinics receive medications from our Central Pharmacy.  Our central pharmacy stocks all of our medications, and then our clinics dispense them. There’s a common misconception that we have pharmacies inside of our clinics, which isn’t accurate—we just dispense medications there. However, all of our clinics are licensed and registered with the DEA. 

Even if we don’t have the medication you need available in-clinic, our central pharmacy can fill the medications prescribed. And when patients have their prescriptions filled through our central pharmacy they can pick it up in person, or we can have it delivered to their home or office, which is an added bonus.   

What types of medications do we most commonly stock inside our clinics?

We primarily stock medications used to treat symptomatic conditions. Think about going for a hike on Saturday, and waking up Sunday morning with a rash covering your legs.  Or waking up Wednesday morning with a sore throat and nagging cough. Or picking up your daughter from a sleep over and discovering she has goopy, itchy eyes. These are the types of medications we have available in each of our clinics.  We stock these prescription meds, so that our patients can get in, receive the medical care they need, and get out with the meds in hand. This allows them to feel better sooner, etc. We also adjust what we stock-based on factors like seasonality and in-clinic demand. 

How do our pharmacy and in-clinic dispensing programs tie into Zoom’s promise of fast, affordable, reliable care? 

At ZOOM+Care, most of our visits are 15 minutes—and there’s no wait. It’s a totally “waitless” experience. Our goal is to continue that “waitlessness” through the entire patient experience. 

Let’s say you’re diagnosed with bacterial sinusitis—a condition that’s common this time of year, and one that requires an antibiotic. That antibiotic is available for you right there in the clinic, and you can take your first dose of medications before walking out the door. Plus, you won’t have to drive to a pharmacy and wait for your prescription to be filled—and then wait again to pay for it. Within 20 minutes of arriving at ZOOM+Care, you’re free to get on with your life, with medication in-hand.  

We also try to eliminate the access burden of cost. Most of our medications are less than an insurance co-pay, and far less than the cash pay price at community pharmacies. We use our platform and our position to provide medical care in a way that offers exceptional value to our patients. We want our patients to get better sooner. We’re not trying to make a fortune on medication. 

I think there’s a misconception that convenience is costly. You’re saying there’s no upcharge with our in-clinic medications? 

Not at all. Like I said, most of our medications are less than the cost of an insurance copay. And if you’re paying cash, it’s less than anywhere in Portland and Seattle by far. Our costs are usually less than what you pay at your neighborhood community pharmacy.

How are we able to provide these medications at such a low cost? 

Our average medication cost is $10. Part of how we keep the price down is by stocking generic medications. We have a few brand medications in our clinic—like rescue inhalers for people with respiratory issues, for example—but most all of our medications are generic. 

And it’s important to remember that—unlike generic laundry detergent, where maybe it doesn’t smell as nice, or your clothes don’t come out as clean—generic medications are the same as name brand medications. The FDA requires generics to be “equivalent,” meaning they have the exact same active ingredients. The only difference between generic and brand-name medicines are the inactive ingredients, such as flavoring or preservatives. And of course, the cost!

ZOOM+Care's pharmacy

You mentioned that most patients can take their first dose of medication in-clinic. What are the benefits of this? 

One benefit is that there’s no delay in treatment. You can start your journey to feeling better immediately. 

Another benefit is that it gives you the chance to ask all your questions—and really get informed about your medications—right there in the clinic. Normally, a doctor prescribes a medication, and then your pharmacist talks to you about how to take it. At ZOOM+Care, all of this happens in the clinic. The doctor will do a complete review of all the medications you’re taking, then talk you through the common side effects that you might experience, as well as adverse reactions and things to watch out for. Additionally, we have a full pharmacy team available to any of our patients.

Our in-clinic dispensing offers convenience with zero downside. Why do you think patients opt out? 

I think the main reason why our patients opt out is the fear of cost. There’s a huge misconception that our medications are more expensive, or “boutique.” A lot of our patients believe they can get a better deal, less expensive medication elsewhere. 

Maybe people are fooled by our cute ZOOM+Care prescription bottles?

Maybe! They definitely are cute.

To wrap things up, boil down what the ZOOM+Care pharmacy does into to an elevator ride explanation for us. 

We offer fast, affordable medications for patients, delivered in an on-demand way. 

You don’t have to wait, and you don’t have to go through the complexities and hurdles that your traditional medical system has set out for you to get prescription medications when you need them. ZOOM+Care’s pharmacy offers our patients safe, affordable, and easily accessible meds to get you feeling better, quicker.

Ready to experience a different kind of healthcare? Schedule a ZOOM+Care visit today.

3 Science-Backed Benefits of Getting Off Your Butt (And Into Nature)

Two women sitting in nature, by a lake overlooking Mt. Hood in Oregon

These days, we spend the majority of our waking hours sitting on our backsides, staring at screens. (Upwards of 11 hours per day, apparently.) But as it turns out, your Grandma was onto something with all those “fresh air will do you good” lectures. Research suggests that it’s important to spend time in nature, and doing so is beneficial — perhaps even essential — for our mental and physical health. 

As summer marches on in the Pacific Northwest, we’re examining the evidence that nature makes us healthier, happier people. Below, three science-backed reasons to get off your butt and go enjoy Mother Nature:  

A mountain stream in Oregon

Twenty minutes outdoors is all it takes to boost your physical and mental well-being. 

Immersing yourself in nature for two hours every week has significant health benefits, according to a study published in the Journal Scientific Reports

People who spent 120 minutes a week in “green spaces” reported a significant increase in both their mental and physical well-being, compared to those who didn’t go outdoors. (No need to head for the mountains, btw. An urban park counts as a green space.) The participants didn’t need to spend that time exercising, either—as long as they were outdoors, immersed in natured, they experienced a boost in their overall well-being. 

Even better, the two hours could be spread out throughout the week. Bottom line: As little as 20 minutes outdoors per day is all it takes to see health benefits. 

Other studies show that immersing yourself in natural surroundings can decrease cortisol levels—AKA the stress hormone—and lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate. 

A man standing with a camera in the Oregon woods

Going outdoors can help ease anxiety and depression. 

According to recent research, exposure to green spaces can help ease anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.  

One study showed that strolls through the forest increased self-esteem while decreasing anxiety and negative emotions. In another, nature walks reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex—an area of the brain that’s active during rumination. (Rumination is what happens when you get down or anxious. It’s the process of continuously thinking the same thoughts, which tend to be sad and dark.) When people feel stressed or depressed, the prefrontal cortex malfunctions, and they may experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts.

In the study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people who walked for 90 minutes. Half the participants strolled through a natural setting with trees and shrubs, while the other half took a jaunt through an urban environment. The nature walkers showed decreases in cycling thoughts and activity in their prefrontal cortices, while the urban walkers did not. 

Looking out through the trees at Crater Lake, OR

Nature may increase creativity, mental energy, and focus.

Nature is the most abundant source of beauty and inspiration available to us. Is it any surprise that it enhances our creativity? One study found that people who immersed themselves in nature for four days were able to boost their performance on a creative problem-solving test by a whopping 50%.

Similarly, nature might have a “restorative” effect on our attention spans and mental energy. In another, researchers examined participants’ ability to focus. They sent some people on a hike through nature, others on an urban stroll, and instructed the rest to relax. When everyone returned, the nature group outperformed the others on a proofreading task.  

Nature’s attention-restoring effect might even extend to kids with ADHD: children’s symptoms have been found to improve after a 20 walk through the park.

While the research is compelling, we hope these insights encourage you to go outside and experience the benefits of nature firsthand. Summer is waiting!

Looking for more summer reading? Discover five common skincare bummers, and how to solve them.

Less Wait, Less Cost: Here’s How ZOOM+Care’s Super Clinic Stacks Up Against the Emergency Department 

A woman sitting at a desk on a laptop inside ZOOM+Care's Super clinic
The ZOOM+Care Super Clinic

$238 for generic eye drops. $60 for children’s ibuprofen. $629 for a band-aid. These may sound like the worst ‘Price Is Right’ bids of all time, but they’re real line items on emergency room bills—bills for items a patient could pick up at a drugstore.

If you think there’s something seriously wrong with that, you’re not alone. We think so, too. That’s why we created the ZOOM+Care Super Clinic: our Emergency Room alternative in Portland, OR. 

The ZOOM+Care Super Clinic exists to fill the gap between the ER and Urgent Care. It’s an accessible, affordable, fast, and stress-free option for treating serious injuries or illnesses, offering a stark counterpoint to the overcrowding and chaos in traditional emergency rooms. In most cases, patients are in and out of Super in less than an hour. For those paying the uninsured rate, the price is flat $549—a fraction of what one can expect from an ER bill. 

If you have insurance, it’s even better: because many insurance companies view our Super Clinic as “specialist” rather than emergency care, it’s less expensive, and more likely to be covered. That means less out-of-pocket expenses for you. 

Think our Super Clinic sounds too good to be true? Keep reading to learn more about how we’re taking on traditional Emergency care, one problem at a time: 

Emergency room problem #1: A startling lack of transparency

When you walk into an Emergency Room, the only certainty is that nothing is certain. It’s a game of billing-and-wait-time roulette.

Part of the uncertainty around ER costs comes from something called a “facility fee”—the fee a hospital charges to keep their doors open 24/7. It doesn’t include any care provided, either—it’s a charge for simply walking through an emergency room’s doors. The problem is, these fees are not public, and they vary greatly from hospital to hospital. You could be charged as little as $533 for a facility fee, or well over $3,000, depending on which hospital you visit and how severe your injury is. Yep, billing roulette. 

In an ER setting, there’s also a lack of transparency about how your injury or illness will be treated. As Dr. Mark Zeitzer, our Medical Director of Acute Care Services, says,  “When you go to the ER, you don’t know what they’re going to do to you, when they’re going to do it, how much it’s going to cos, how long it’s going to take or who’s going to do it. Long story short, you don’t know anything.” 

An examination room inside of ZOOM+Care's Super Clinic
A Super Clinic examination room
ZOOM+Care Super’s solution 

In a traditional ER setting, patients learn what their emergency room visit costs when they receive a bill weeks to months later. Emergency room bills in Oregon range from $150-$3,000 with some costing as much as $20,000, or even more. At ZOOM+Care Super, there is no uncertainty about what things will cost.  Our uninsured rate for an emergency office visit is $549, with imaging included. That’s less than the cost of a band-aid at some emergency rooms! If you have insurance, we’ll give you a quote up front so you know what to expect. 

Our pricing isn’t the only thing that’s transparent, either. After your provider assesses your situation, they outline a care plan for you in plain sight, on a whiteboard. This includes what labs, images including (X-ray/US and CT) medication and fluids will be done or given and how long it will take.  Nothing is a mystery—our providers take the time to ensure that you feel comfortable and that you understand exactly what your treatment entails. 

Emergency room problem #2: The prices are high—like, really high 

$236 for a pregnancy test? Oftentimes, patients in the ER receive drugstore items at a significant markup—in this case, 29 times the drugstore price. And they’re paying higher bills as a result.

These high costs sting, especially when you consider how many people in the Emergency Room don’t actually need to be there. Which brings us to our next point…

Imaging is included in the Super Clinic’s flat fee
ZOOM+Care Super’s Solution 

The ZOOM+Care Super Clinic can treat 80% of the reasons adults and kids go to the ER, and it can do so faster, cheaper, more efficiently, and overall better.  No $625 band-aids here—just a transparent, uninsured rate of $549. Our flat fee covers everything from labs to imaging, and yes, band-aids. 

But what if you think you need to go to the ER, but you’re not sure? Here’s a good rule-of-thumb: If you have an urgent medical issue, but not one that’s so life-threatening you need to call an ambulance, go to Super. We have board certified emergency physicians onsite, along with CT scans, IV fluids, labs, IV medications, X-Rays, and ultrasound. 

If you do need to be admitted to the hospital, we will arrange an admission directly to the facility of your choice, allowing you to bypass the hospital emergency room all together.

Problem #3: Long wait times 

In Oregon, the average wait time before being seen by a doctor ranges from 28-55 minutes—and that’s just the amount of time patients spend in the waiting room. The average time spent in the ER before being sent home ranges from 90-216 minutes. That means—best case scenario—you can get in and out of the Emergency Room in two hours. Worst case scenario? You’re sitting there for over four hours. 

The outside of our Super Clinic on NE Grand
The outside of our Super Clinic, located on NE Grand street in Portland
ZOOM+Care Super’s Solution 

At the Super Clinic, the average wait time is 0 minutes. Instead of making patients wait for an unspecified amount of time in a crowded room full of sick people, we allow them to schedule a room online with their phone. When they arrive, they’re taken right back to their treatment room by their provider. The average time a patient spends in Super is 47 minutes total. 

While there’s still a long way to go in fixing the broken emergency care system, our ZOOM+Care Super clinic is a small-but-meaningful step in the right direction—one with many positive impacts for patients in Oregon.

While we hope you don’t need the Super Clinic, we’re here for you if you do. A visit is just a few clicks away, always.

5 Summer Skin Bummers (And How to Solve Them)

Just because you love summertime doesn’t mean it loves you back. Whether it’s through sun, sweltering heat, or swarms of insects, summer can wreak serious havoc on your skin. You don’t have to sequester yourself indoors, though—just take our dermatologist-approved advice for solving your biggest summer skincare bummers. 

Bummer #1: Sunburn 

Let’s face it—during the summertime, sun exposure is inevitable. To prevent a burn, you should always (and we mean always) wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply protection at least 20 minutes before you go outdoors, making sure to cover some oft-missed areas: nostrils, ears, the area around your armpits, and on the tops of your feet and toes. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, consider wearing a hat for additional sun protection. 

If you do slip up and get burned, use an ice compress to soothe inflammation and cool your skin. You can also slather on an aftersun lotion with aloe, and pop a couple Ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. Although many people try, your topical hydrocortisone cream does little to hasten the redness or the pain. If you’re not able to get relief at home, see a doctor immediately. 

Bummer #2: Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

Hiking is one of our favorite summertime activities, but it can lead to a brush with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. These pesky plants are coated in a sticky, long-lasting oil called urushiol—when it touches your skin, it causes a red, itchy, blistering rash. 

If you do come into contact with poisonous plants this summer, wash the area right away with soap and water. Next, treat the pain and irritation with ice-cold compresses and over-the-counter topical treatments, such as calamine lotion. While plant rashes usually resolve on their own within a few weeks, they can be extremely uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor if you have a severe reaction, or if a rash appears on your face or genitals. If you’re super miserable, a prescription for an oral steroid like prednisone might be necessary. 

As for prevention: Be aware of your surroundings, and if possible, keep your skin covered. We suggest wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and closed shoes if you’re hiking in areas where poisonous plants grow.  

Bummer #3: Bug Bites

Reality bites—and inevitably, during the summertime, so do bugs. Wearing long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes will help prevent insect bites and stings, but if you spend enough time outdoors, bites are bound to happen.  

Most bug bites are more than an irritating itch—they’re actually an allergic reaction to bug’s saliva, causing inflammation, redness, and swelling. Gross, right? 

We know it’s darn-near impossible, but—if the bugs do bite this summer—try your best not to scratch. Scratching creates tiny openings in your skin, allowing for bacteria and infection to make their way in. Instead, clean the affected area with soap and water, then apply a hydrocortisone cream to the bite. This will reduce redness, itching, and decrease inflammation. You can also try at-home topical remedies like aloe vera and oatmeal. 

Bummer #4: Acne 

Acne happens all year round, but people tend to break out more in the summertime. Why? When it’s hot outside, your body produces more oil, and you sweat more. Lots of sweat + oil = acne. (There’s also all the sunscreen we’ve been urging you to apply, which—while nonnegotiable—can contribute to breakouts.)

Regardless of where acne pops up, the treatment is relatively the same. Cleanse the affected area daily with a gentle face or body wash that contains glycolic or salicylic acid. You might also want to switch up your skincare routine, too—using oil-free makeup and sunscreen will ensure you don’t further clog pores. 

Bummer #5: Folliculitis

As you probably already know, every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. If follicles become infected, you develop folliculitis—itchy, acne-like eruptions that are commonly found on shoulders, legs, and thighs. 

Because bacteria love warm, moist, dark conditions, it’s super easy to contract this infection during the summer months—especially if you frequently wear workout clothes or spandex. Tight clothing compresses the hair follicle, making bacteria more likely to grow there. 

To prevent folliculitis, shower and change your clothes right after a workout. If you’re prone to breakouts, avoid wearing tight, non-breathable fabric like spandex in the summer. If you do develop folliculitis, it’ll likely clear up in a few days with basic self-care measures. However, if it persists, be sure to contact your dermatologist—more severe cases may require prescription medication. 

Woman holding a phone with information about ZOOM+Care Dermatology. Zoom is perfect for summer skin issues.

When to call a dermatologist

While these summer skin problems are definitely bummers, they’re usually not serious. Most go away in a few days to a few weeks, but—if a rash or other skin problem persists—we’re here for you. Schedule a dermatology visit today. 

ZOOM+Care Super: The Perfect Solution to Summer Fun Gone Wrong 

The ZOOM+Care Super clinic in Portland, OR is perfect for summertime injuries
Our ZOOM+Care Super Clinic on NE Grand Ave

Mercury isn’t the only thing that rises in the summer: as temps spike, so do visits to the Emergency Room. This time of year, with all its swimming, sun, sand, and sports, is practically an invitation for injury—but is the ER your only option for treating summer fun gone wrong? 

Thankfully, the answer to that question is “no.” A typical visit to the ER can take well over three hours and cost you upwards of $1,500, but we have a better option for treating non-life-threatening injuries: ZOOM+Care Super, our Emergency Room alternative. A truly innovative solution in the healthcare world, Super can treat 80% of the reasons that adults and kids go to the ER‚ including bone fractures, abdominal pain, headache, asthma attacks, kidney stones, and early pregnancy complications. It’s cheaper and faster, too—the average visit is just 47 minutes, with no wait. In other words? Super is perfect those “oh s!@*%” moments of summer. 

We sat down with Dr. Mark Zeitzer—a board-certified emergency physician, and our Medical Director of Acute Care Services—to talk about common summertime injuries, what the ZOOM+Care Super Clinic does, and how it’s filling the gap between urgent care and the ER. 

Before we get into what ZOOM+Care Super does, let’s go back to the beginning. Can you tell us how the idea for Super came about? It’s such an innovative concept.

Sure! So, in the early days of ZOOM+Care, we were sending a lot of our patients to the Emergency Department. And that was frustrating because many of our patients didn’t really need to be in the ER. What they needed was an ultrasound, or a CT scan, a liter of fluid or an IV medication — just a little bit more intensive treatment than we could provide at our Daily Care clinics. So, we started talking about how ZOOM+Care could bridge that gap. We started asking ourselves questions: Could we be doing something better? Could we find a way to help our patients with that next step? 

And that’s really how the idea for Super came about. We realized that if we put emergency physicians in a place where there is a CT scanner, a lab, IV fluids, and medications, we could handle about 80% of the things that people go to the Emergency Department for. And more importantly, we could do it faster, better, and cheaper. 

Receptionist sitting at a desk inside of the ZOOM+Care Super Clinic

Can you talk a little bit about the difference between Super and the Emergency Department? 

Super is all about addressing uncertainties. When you go to the Emergency Room, you’re met with so many unknowns. You don’t know how much it going to cost. You don’t know what they’re going to do to you, and you don’t know when they’re going to do it. Long story short, you don’t know anything. 

At Super, we turn uncertainties into certainties. Nothing is a mystery. We give you an idea of the cost upfront. When you come in for a visit, we write out everything on a whiteboard so you know exactly what’s going to happen to you, and when it’s going to happen.

Another benefit of Super is that you don’t have to tell your story multiple times. When you go to the Emergency Room, you talk to a greeter, then you speak to a triage nurse, then you meet your nurse, and finally, you talk to a provider. The problem is, that whole experience can take four or five hours. At Super, your provider comes out right at your appointed time—maybe even earlier—shakes your hand, and brings you back to your room. Everything starts right then and there. 

An x-ray machine inside of the ZOOM+Care Super clinic

Emergency room visits rise in the summer—is that the case with Super as well? What kinds of injuries do you see most during the summertime? 

We see a lot of summertime injuries at Super, many of them related to being outdoors—for example, we see more bee stings this time of year. A lot of people come in with sunburns, and rashes from poison ivy and poison oak. There are also a lot of tick and other creepy crawly-related concerns. 

We see heat-related injuries as well, such as heat stroke and dehydration. 

And then, of course, there are the orthopedic complaints—sprained ankles, broken bones. People are out riding their bikes all the time, so we see a trend of people coming in because they got their bike tires caught in the railroad tracks and they go down hard. Their tires get into those grooves—it’s super dangerous!

How can Super help with common summertime injuries like the ones you just mentioned? 

Super is perfect for summertime injuries. For example, we’re really great with things like dehydration. Plus, CTs, ultrasounds, labs, fluids, and medications can all be done right then and there, much faster and cheaper than the ER. 

An MRI inside of ZOOM+Care Super

What’s a good rule of thumb for determining if you should go to Super? 

If you think you need to go to the ER, but you’re not sure—head to Super.

Another way to think of it is like this: If you go to the ER and you wind up sitting in the waiting room, you probably don’t need to be there.  That’s when you should use our app (or go online) to schedule a visit at Super. 

What happens if you really DO need the ER?

If it turns out that you do need the emergency department, we have emergency physicians standing right in front of you, to help you get where you need to go. We’ll get you admitted to the hospital directly, too, so you don’t have to go through the emergency department. 

A window decal that reads "super clinic."

Let’s talk about our Daily Care clinics for a minute. When should someone go to Daily Care vs Super?  

So, our Daily Care clinics are awesome, and they can do a lot. Common outdoor injuries—such as strains and sprains that don’t need x-rays, scratches, bruises, and lacerations—can all be taken care of at Daily Care. Plus, they’re convenient. We put Daily Care clinics in your neighborhood, at your disposal, so that you can get in quickly. 

If you are unsure of where to go, our Daily Care providers will help you decide. If your concern can be addressed there, great! Otherwise, they’ll send you to Super. Either way, very few of our patients end up going in the Emergency Department. ZOOM+Care has driven referral rate to the Emergency Department from 1.3% down to 0.3%, which is truly remarkable. When you look around the healthcare industry, that is an incredible low referral rate.

Experiencing a summer bummer? Super can help. Schedule a same-day, no-wait visit today.

Happy 4th of July! Follow These Fireworks Safety Tips so You Won’t Have Come and See Us

It’s almost the 4th of July, which for most of us means one thing, and one thing only: fireworks.  

While fireworks are fun to watch (and even more fun to light), it’s easy to forget how dangerous these Fourth of July favorites can be. Last year, 9,100 people went to U.S. ­emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

It’s not just fireworks that send people to the ER, either. Believe it or not, sparklers—another 4th of July staple, especially among small children—were the #1 cause of Independence Day injuries. 

To help you get through the holiday with all your limbs intact, we’re rounding up some firework safety tips. Put these to good use, and you can avoid paying us a visit this 4th of July. 

First things first: Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying them. (And before you use them, you might want to brush up on your local fireworks laws.) 

Wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks. Seriously, we want you to keep both of your eyeballs! 

Don’t let young children play with or light fireworks. Just, don’t. 

Never (repeat, never) point or throw fireworks at another human being. 

If you decide to let your children play with sparklers, always have an adult supervise them.  

Firework not ignite fully? Don’t try to pick it up or re-light it. 

Light one firework at a time. After lighting the fuse, move back—quickly!

Never lean your body over fireworks while lighting them. 

Be prepared. Keep a hose or a bucket of water close by, just in case things go awry. 

Don’t shoot fireworks off in metal or glass containers.

Some asthmatics are sensitive to the smoke that fireworks produce which can results in asthma attacks. Stand back a safe distance and be careful not to inhale firework smoke.

Ah yes, booze and dangerous explosives—perhaps not the safest combination. Be responsible with alcohol while lighting fireworks.

 Once you’re doe, douse the fireworks with plenty of water, then dispose of them in a metal trash can.

Your safest option? Leave it to the professionals and attend a fireworks display. 

Now that we’ve lectured you about firework safety, go fourth (er, forth) and have a safe, fun-filled 4th of July! 

If you do experience a firework fail this 4th of July, we’re here for you. Schedule a visit at our Super clinic—we’re open ‘til midnight on the 4th (and every day), and can handle 80% of the emergencies that an Emergency Department does without the wait or cost. 

Free Nights: Part of Our Commitment to Affordable, Accessible Care

A banner announcing that ZOOM+Care Free Nights are back

Imagine living in constant fear of getting sick. In fear of catching a cold, because it could lead to pneumonia—and pneumonia could land you in the hospital. And what if a hospital visit cost you the equivalent of several months’ rent, or more?

For those without access to insurance, this is the reality.

At ZOOM+Care, we believe that healthcare should be affordable, complete, and accessible to all—but we acknowledge there’s still a long way to go. Obstacles, such as cost and lack of insurance, prevent many from getting the basic medical care they deserve. That’s why, on July 10th, we’re bringing ZOOM+Care Free Nights back. Starting at our MLK clinic, we’ll offer complimentary visits the second Wednesday of every month, from 6-9 PM.

Free Nights are our way of giving back—they’re part of our commitment to making healthcare affordable and radically accessible. Through them, we support care for uninsured members of our community, and for those who do not otherwise have access to healthcare services.

We know you probably have some questions about how our Free Nights work, so we sat down with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vanderlip to give you some answers. Discover more below.

Hey Dr. Vanderlip! July 10th is the big comeback of ZOOM+Care Free Nights, and you’ve played a huge role in getting them back up and running. Can you tell us why Free Nights are so important to you personally, and to ZOOM+Care as a whole?

ZOOM+Care’s mission is to bring better access to high-quality healthcare services to everyone. But healthcare is expensive, and we have to operate a sustainable business. For some people, the cost of our services is prohibitively expensive. We care about everyone in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to showcase that commitment. Personally, I’m very proud of the system we have and the value of care we provide—this allows us to extend it to even more folks.

How do Free Nights fit into the overall mission of ZOOM+Care?

We want to make access to healthcare simple and delightful for everyone. This is our chance to advance that mission to those who don’t have health insurance, or those temporarily caught in a transition between insurance.

I’ve heard you mention that Free Nights are not a “cheaper, lighter version of ZOOM”— they’re essentially the full ZOOM+Care experience. Can you tell us a little more about that?

That’s right! The experience is essentially the same as any other ZOOM+Care clinic visit, with the absence of online scheduling. Each person is set up with a ZOOM+Care account if they’re new to the system, given a time slot, and seen by one of our ZOOM+Care providers in the exact same way as if they were scheduling a regular ZOOM+Care visit. We focus on one problem at a time and try to knock it out of the park. Most of what we would do is available for free, including our on-site medications and bedside tests. If we order lab tests that take some time to return, we communicate as typical through a person’s ZOOM+Care account and help to arrange appropriate follow up within ZOOM+Care or community partners, exactly the same way we would do it in a typical ZOOM+Care visit.

This is important to note—we are bringing virtually the same exact experience to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

 How does ZOOM+Care staff Free Nights? Do providers volunteer their time, or…?

We care about our providers and value their time— they are reimbursed for their time in our free night the same as if they were seeing patients during the day. On occasion, we may provide some extra incentives to sweeten the pot and thank them for taking additional time away from their personal lives to help us meet the needs of our broader community. I’m talking about pizza. [laughs]

Is there anything we can’t treat on ZOOM+Care Free Nights?

We don’t diagnose or treat STDs. We also don’t provide x-rays. Also, in general, if we don’t do it at regular ZOOM+Care, we can’t do it at free nights. For instance, ZOOM+Care doesn’t prescribe narcotics (opioid pain medications).

Are there any eligibility requirements for Free Nights, or are they open to everyone?

You have to have a valid photo ID to set up your ZOOM+Care account. It also helps if you have an email address so we can connect with you later regarding follow up or lab results.

What is the primary goal of ZOOM+Care Free Nights? Do you see its mission expanding in the future?

The goal is to expand our services to more folks in the community. I see this expanding as far as we can sustain it. I’m thankful that I work with an amazing team who shares my passion for getting our model of care to everyone—our internal excitement to reboot Free Night is unparalleled! I’m confident it will remain a stable fixture of our service offerings for some time.

Want to learn more about what a free visit at Zoom entails? Check out our Free Night FAQs.

Sun’s Out, Bikes Out. Here’s How to Prevent Common Bike-related Injuries This Summer

A man in a red shirt standing next to a white bike.

Every Pacific Northwesterner knows: When the sun comes out, so do the bikes.

And while cycling is a great low impact way to improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your lower body, and reduce your carbon footprint, there are some cons to trading four wheels for two—namely, risk of pain and injury.

So, to kick off the PNW’s prime biking season, we’re talking bicycling safety tips. Read on to discover the most common bike-related pains and injuries, and what you can do to prevent them.

KNEE PAIN

“Take up cycling,” they said. “It won’t hurt your knees,” they said. While it’s true that biking is a low-impact form of exercise, it doesn’t always alleviate knee pain—in fact, roughly a quarter of professional cyclists suffer from knee injuries. One of the most common complaints among bikers is anterior knee pain, or pain in and around the kneecap. Cyclists can get it from muscle tightness, overuse, or a poorly-adjusted bike.

An x-ray of a knee.
x-ray OA knee x-ray

HOW TO PREVENT IT:

First, check your bike fit against an online calculator. You want to make sure your bike is adjusted to your measurements, but also to the type of riding that you do. Areas to pay extra-close attention to are seat height, seat position, and the rotation and position of your cleats.  

Next, make sure you’re stretching—something cyclists often overlook. Try getting on a foam roller and gently rolling the quads, the inside of the thigh, hamstrings, and calves. Pro tip: When rolling, use long, continuous motions to add some length to your muscles—don’t go quickly up and down like a rolling pin.

ELBOW FRACTURE

During June and July, our Zoom providers see twice as many bike accidents as other months. As we previously reported, the most common injury isn’t a broken wrist or a broken collarbone, either—believe it or not, it’s the elbow. (More specifically, the radial head and radial neck.)

Why the elbow and not the wrist, you ask? When you fall and catch yourself with your hands, the impact of hitting the ground travels up your forearm, where it hits a fixed point at the elbow—which can cause the head or neck of the radius bone to fracture, or sometimes fragment.  

An x-ray showing a radial head fracture, a common bike-related injury

HOW TO PREVENT IT:

This is a tricky one. Outside of, well…not crashing your bike, there isn’t much you can do in the way of prevention. “Extending one or both arms to break a fall is something we do instinctively to protect our heads, which is good,” says ZOOM+Care’s Orthopedic Surgeon Carolyn Yang. “If you can think to do one thing as you go down, bend your elbows, which will reduce the impact on the joint.”

If you do suffer a break, be sure to visit ZOOM+Super—our Emergency Care Clinic in Portland. Super can treat 80% of the reasons adults and kids go to the ER, including breaks and bone fractures.

CHAFING/SADDLE SORES

Hours spent sitting on an uncomfortable seat + sweating in tight clothing = chafing. And while saddle sores aren’t the sexiest summertime biking injury, they’re certainly a common one.

If chafing does pop up this summer, be sure to wash daily with a fragrance-free soap, then gently pat—never rub—dry. After cleaning the area, apply an ointment like petroleum jelly to reduce friction.

One note: If the area becomes swollen, beefy red, hot, painful, crusted, or starts bleeding, be sure to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider, who can recommend a medicated ointment.

HOW TO PREVENT IT:

If you start to develop chafing and saddle sores, take time off the bike. Seriously—constantly re-exposing the area isn’t going to help you heal.

Other preventive measures include wearing loose, breathable clothing, making sure your seat is adjusted to the proper height and angle, wearing padded shorts, and switching to a seat with better cushioning.

TRAIN TRACK-RELATED INJURIES

Ask any urban cyclist—biking downtown is akin navigating to a war zone. There are the usual dangers (read: cars, buses, streetcars), but there’s another, less-obvious foe lurking: train tracks. The gaps between the rails and pavement can easily swallow a bicycle wheel, and slick tracks can make your tires slip out from under you.

“This time of year, people are out riding their bikes all the time—and railroad tracks can be super dangerous, even for experienced riders. Every summer, we see a trend of people breaking bones because they get caught in those grooves,” says hardcore cyclist Dr. Mark Zeitzer. (He also happens to be our Medical Director of Acute Care Services.)

A person on a bike riding next to the train tracks.

HOW TO PREVENT THEM

First things first: When you come a railroad crossing, slow down and make sure there is no train coming. Once it’s safe to cross, attack them from a perpendicular angle—cross at 90 degrees to the way they run, or as close as you can to that. Be sure to look out for perpendicular gaps, as well.

BACK PAIN

Is it any wonder that biking—an activity which requires you to maintain an unnatural, hunched over, position—causes back pain? While nagging back pain should be addressed by chiropractor or and or medical massage specialist, there are a few changes you can make to prevent it during the heavy riding months.

HOW TO PREVENT IT:

Similarly to knee pain, many cyclists experience back pain due to a poor bike fit. Make sure your seat is the right height and position—one that’s too low or too high can aggravate your lower back. Likewise, adjust your bike to fit your exact height and build. That way, your spine rests in a neutral—not a rounded—position.

Finally, try some core strengthening exercises like planks, leg lifts, and lunges. By strengthening your core, you’ll rely less on your lower back for power, making it easier to handle the forward position on your bike.

If you’re still experiencing chronic muscle pain in your knees or back, it might be time see an Orthopedist. The best part? You don’t need a referral—simply schedule a visit at one of our three Portland clinics. 

Here’s What Using ZOOM+Care for Mental Health Is Like

 

 

Q: What’s different about your approach to mental healthcare?

Have you ever sought help from a mental health professional? Think of what that experience was like: Did you have to get a referral from your primary care physician first? Did you call around to dozens of providers, only to be met with long wait times and limited availability? And when you finally did get in to see someone, were they even a good fit? Or, maybe you’re one of the 46 million Americans who have never sought help for their mental health because there were too many obstacles in the way.

No doubt about it, there’s a mental healthcare accessibility problem in our country. Zoom wants to change that. As part of our mission to make mental health care easy and accessible, we offer on-demand visits with or without a referral. Getting help is as simple as scheduling a same-day ZOOM+Care visit directly from your phone.

Our approach is a radical departure from the long wait times and barriers of traditional mental healthcare, but we know that change comes with questions. We’re here to answer yours with a little help from Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer—and board-certified psychiatrist—Dr. Erik Vanderlip. Read on to discover what it’s like to use Zoom for Mental Health.

First things first: How do I schedule a visit?

You don’t need a referral to use ZOOM+Care Mental Health. You can schedule a visit directly from your phone.

However, Dr. Vanderlip says, “There is no wrong door for getting mental healthcare at Zoom. You can begin your mental health journey at any of our ZOOM+Care clinics as well. It’s up to you how you want to use Zoom—whether your concern is urgent or not, we have a solution for you.”

So I can go to any ZOOM+Care for mental health, too?

Yes! Like we said, there is no wrong door to mental healthcare at Zoom.

“Say you’re on an anti-anxiety medication like an SSRI, and you’ve been taking it for years,” Vanderlip explains. “If you just need a refill, you can see any Zoom provider. If we can’t address your issue there, we will recommend that you see a Mental Healthcare specialist—and that specialist will pick up where your ZOOM+Care provider left off.”

How does a mental health visit at ZOOM+Care differ from a traditional mental healthcare visit?

At Zoom, we enable patients to make their own decisions about their mental health.

In the words of Dr. Vanderlip, “We’re different because we believe that you can understand what’s happening to you, and if you don’t, we can help. Zoom is all about putting the power in your hands as an individual, and giving you the agency to decide how and when you want to see us—and who you want to see.”

Will I see the same provider every time?

The choice is yours.

“If you want to see the same Mental Health Specialist every time, you can.” Vanderlip explains. “We make that as easy as possible by allowing you to schedule appointments up to a month in advance. But if your provider gets sick or goes on vacation, then we have a whole team of mental health experts who can offer you insight and guidance.”

That’s interesting! What are some of the advantages of team-based healthcare?

It’s all part of making sure you get care soon as you need it—on demand.

“We have an intensive, team-based philosophy,” Vanderlip explains. “It’s part of how we provide better care. In traditional mental healthcare systems, you can call your doctor and leave them a message if you need anything. But in those systems, doctors burn out because they’re returning 50 phone calls a day. They never have enough time to focus on the person in front of them. When you see a ZOOM+Care provider, the focus is 100% on you and the time you’ve got together. Our providers are not distracted by something else—that’s one of the ways we provide really great healthcare—and it’s no different for mental health as well.”

What treatments does ZOOM+Care Mental Health offer?

That’s up to you, too.

“Our number one goal is to help you make sense of what’s happening to you, and then offer a range of treatment possibilities for you to consider. We help you understand the pros and cons of each treatment, then let you decide what sounds best,” Vanderlip says.

“If it’s therapy, we don’t do intensive psychotherapy within Zoom. However, we can connect you with a community partner that does. We can also direct you to great resources such as apps or books to personalize your approach to therapy. And in each visit, our team of fantastic mental health providers can infuse basic therapy principles to help you on your journey to recovery. If it’s medication, we can prescribe most medications. Our providers offer great advice and guidance on how to use medication to help you get over what you’re struggling with.”

So what you’re saying is, I’m in the driver’s seat?

Absolutely.

“We don’t want to be a big part of your life,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “We want to get you to a place where you feel better and functional, and then we want to get out of your hair. Our goal is to be as minimally invasive as possible—in many ways, we’re just your copilots in mental health. You’re calling the shots.”

Are there any treatments and medications you DON’T offer?

Yes. We don’t prescribe certain medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, or Ativan – commonly known as benzodiazepines. We’re also unable prescribe medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder such as methadone, buprenorphine or suboxone, and long-acting injectable antipsychotics like haloperidol decanoate and Abilify Maintena.

If you need stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin, amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, we require an in-person Mental Health or Internal Medicine visit.

Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.

May is Mental Health Month. Here’s What Zoom is Doing to Support Mental Healthcare

Scrabble tiles that spell out the words "mental health."

May is Mental Health Month: a time to raise awareness about mental healthcare and break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

According to research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. Of those 46.6 million, only 41% will seek help due to stigma and fear of discrimination—and even fewer get will get the treatment they need.

At Zoom, we’re on a mission to change that statistic. We aim to make mental healthcare accessible, convenient, and judgement-free—not just this month, but every month.

Our philosophy is that mental illness is like any other medical illness. Mental health stigma is rooted in feelings of fear and embarrassment, and we want people to know there is no shame in finding a listening, caring guide. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip—Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer, as well as a board-certified psychiatrist—says, “Just like you’d go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment.”

Beyond eliminating stigma, Zoom strives to make mental healthcare ultra-accessible. We support a whole person approach to care, and want our patients to know that there is no wrong door for seeking help. “Getting mental healthcare shouldn’t be difficult,” Vanderlip reflects. “We have built extensive bridges between our everyday healthcare services and our mental health services. Some patients opt to begin their mental health journey at our Super clinic, some opt to begin with an Illness / Injury visit, and some go directly to our Mental Health specialists. The idea is, whatever door a patient walks through, they should be able to get great care for whatever stage of recovery they find themselves in.”

Lastly, we believe empowering patients with knowledge can go a long way in helping them take control of their mental health. “The goal of our Mental Health Services is to provide great guidance and advice, so patients can plug back into their lives. We want to give them the tools to feel better on their own,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “But whenever they feel stuck, they can dial us up. It’s all about empowering people to make decisions about their mental health. In many ways, we’re just copilots—the patient is the one in control.”

Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.