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What “Different” Looks Like in Medicine: A Day at Innovative Express Care

Dr. Rahul Khare, CEO and President of Innovative Express Care, has a passion for integrating cannabis into his practice.

His phenomenal team of clinicians, right in the heart of Chicago, offers a variety of cutting-edge treatments. From ketamine infusion therapy to medical cannabis consultations and certifications, along with primary care, urgent care, and pain management.

Being that his clinic is fairly close to Rush Medical Center, where I do congenital heart disease research during the day, I had the fortune of visiting his practice for a little investigative reporting on one of their cannabis clinic days.

In short, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced at a doctor’s office.

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Ketamine Infusion Insurance: App

What if you could utilize an app to inquire about Ketamine Infusions being covered by Insurance?

Innovative Express Care has come up with a way to have Ketamine treatments paid by insurance (or at least a part of it). It’s called Get Better or Better! for short, and it’s a very easy way to submit claims to your insurance. The steps are simple: Download the app, fill in your name and demographics, take a picture of your insurance card, and then get the “Superbill” from Innovative Express Care (I will give you this electronically), and boom, just like that, Better! will send your submission to your insurance. They charge 10% of your total reimbursement. If you have no reimbursement or you haven’t hit your deductible or the insurance pays you nothing, then you do not get charged.

Check it out! Our ketamine patients have had great success with this new App!

 

Rauner Has Signed a Bill Expanding Access to Medical Cannabis in Response to Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Cannabis Bill

Gaurav Dubey, MS and Rahul Khare, MD

Illinois, a state known for strict medical cannabis laws, just took a major step in easing those regulations and expanding access in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. IL Governor, Bruce Rauner, has now signed Senate Bill 336 into law, which includes a major provision allowing patients to swap out their opioid narcotic prescriptions for medical cannabis access. Statistics from the IL Department of Health indicate almost 2,200 deaths in 2017 from opioids (up from 1,072 in 2013), with almost half being attributed to heroin (ILDPH, 2018). The expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program is the proposed solution to this crisis that is outlined in the bill.

Passing with unwavering bipartisan support across the IL house and senate floors, lawmakers desperately hope the bill will help quell the flames of the opioid endemic by dissolving prior sociopolitical and bureaucratic barriers to medical cannabis access. Additionally, it will offer a safer alternative to narcotic painkillers which are notorious for causing overdoses and deaths across the country in what is being called “the opioid alternative program”.

Currently, there are many requirements by the state to obtain a medical cannabis card, with fingerprinting and criminal background checks being one of the most restrictive and contentious regulations. However, in the new bill currently being signed into law by Gov. Rauner, this provision would go up in smoke, along with several others that make access to medical cannabis more difficult. Prospective patients applying to the traditional medical cannabis pilot program can expect lower wait times and will eventually have (estimated to start in January, 2019) immediate interim access to smaller amounts of medical cannabis (2.5g every two weeks) while their application for long term program membership processes with the state. Previously, patients had to wait 60-120 days to receive their medical cannabis cards, says the bill’s sponsor, IL democratic Sen. Don Harmon, quoted in a recent piece by the Herald Review.

Likewise, patients participating in the opioid alternative program can take qualifying forms from a physician straight to the dispensary and purchase 2.5 grams of cannabis every two weeks for up to 90 days, giving them access to the plant-based medicine for a similar length of time that they would be prescribed opioids (ILGA, 2018). Skeptics claim this is a dangerous step towards increased addiction towards cannabis and even opiates, however, the science suggests otherwise. Several recent studies have demonstrated the role of our internal endocannabinoid system in the perception of pain and the efficacy of cannabis in treating it (Lucas, 2012)(Fine & Rosenfeld, 2013)(Fanelli et al., 2017)(Corroon et al., 2017)(Haroutounian et al., 2016)(Vigil et al., 2017). Of course, the stark differences in mortality rates between cannabis and opioids are to be reckoned with by the opposition; to this day, cannabis has not been attributed to a single fatal overdose. Needless to say, the skyrocketing death tolls from opioid overdose help put the urgency for legislation like this into perspective. To read an in-depth, scientific review on how cannabis is combating the opioid epidemic, check out my article on The Medical Cannabis Community website here.

Policymakers and healthcare professionals alike hope increasing access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid narcotics could help mitigate the endemic here in Illinois. Legislation concerning medical cannabis in IL, as defined by the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, restricts use to only those patients certified by their physician as having at least one of about 40 “debilitating medical conditions”. Currently, intractable chronic pain is not one of them. However, the new bill currently being signed into law allows for physician authorization to access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid painkiller prescriptions. Longitudinal and statistical analyses indeed confirm reduced opioid prescriptions, overdoses and deaths in states that have implemented successful medical cannabis programs (Bradford et al., 2018) (Vigil et al., 2017). It is likely a more expansive and streamlined program in Illinois may help reduce opioid mortality rates as well—at least that is the hope.

With elections looming in the near future, democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker leads recent polls and actively advocates for full recreational cannabis legalization. It is speculated that Rauner, a longstanding critic of cannabis, has signed Senate Bill 336 due to its political popularity among Illinois residents.  How effective this bill will be at battling the opioid epidemic here in Illinois remains to be seen. However, scientific and epidemiological data investigating cannabis for pain and cannabis programs on public health have shown to be promising.

If you are interested in getting your medical cannabis card, Innovative Express Care can help you get your card in the most efficient manner possible. We offer what nobody else offers:

  • No processing fees
  • We take insurance (most cost-effective way to get your card)
  • We guarantee our work
  • We can help you with the opioid alternative program (which will likely start in January, 2019)
  • Education on cannabis, including: THC, CBD, and terpenes
  • Continued care, even after you receive your card, to help you get the right strains

Don’t go to any other doctor’s office for your medical cannabis card. We will help with your entire process. Just fill out the form and we will call you within 2 business days. We offer patient appointments within 5 days.

Innovative Express Care Among the First in Chicago to Sync Health Data with Apple Health Records

Lincoln Park clinic known for marrying technology and healthcare to enhance the patient experience puts health data on iPhone for one-touch access to lab results, health history

Chicago – Innovative Express Care is now connected to Apple Health Records, allowing patients access to their personal health data via their iPhone. The primary and urgent care clinic located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, is among the early adopters using the new feature within Apple’s Health application, and is one of only a few clinics in the Chicagoland area on Apple Health Records to date.

Bringing technology and modern conveniences together to improve the health care experience has been a cornerstone of Innovative Express Care’s mission since the clinic opened in 2015. “Our goal is to make access to quality healthcare more convenient,” said Rahul Khare, MD, president and founder of Innovative Express Care. “From online scheduling, to virtual telemedicine appointments that save patients a trip to the clinic for a routine follow up or minor illness, we use technology in our everyday practice to enhance our patient experience. Connecting our electronic health record with the Health Records feature on iPhone was a natural fit for our practice.”

Patients who sign in to Apple Health, which comes installed on all iPhones and was updated with IOS 11.3, can easily retrieve their electronic health record, allowing them to see lab results, immunizations, medications, procedures and more. As more practices join Apple Health Records, patients will have the ability to organize and access health information, across many providers, in one convenient location. Aggregating health data helps patients effectively manage their health and may support better reporting of health history, thereby improving continuity of care.

“Being able to retrieve health data from your iPhone has many conveniences and is especially helpful for patients who come to us for urgent care needs and wish to share test results or a diagnosis with their primary care physician,” said Khare. “It is also great for college students who turn to us for health needs during the school year, but may see another provider in their hometown during the summer months.”

Innovative Express Care offers walk-in urgent care, primary care and telemedicine appointments. For more information on services provided, please visit https://innovativeexpresscare.com.

Ultimate Music Festival Survival Guide

People buy tickets to Chicago’s internationally recognized music festivals months in advance, but many people forget to plan for their health. This is the ultimate musical festival guide! Residents of the “Windy City” are lucky to host music festivals, like Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, and the Spring Awakening, which offer a variety of music, including alternative, folk, blues, hip hop, electronic, and more. The events attract thousands of people from around the world each year and they give residents and visitors the opportunity to come together and experience great music.

Chicago’s many great music festivals are definitely something to be excited about, but not planning for your heath when you will be in crowded places, dancing and drinking in the sun for days, is not a good idea. Medical professionals must treat hundreds of festival-goers each year, and the effects of music, alcohol, drugs, late nights, unprotected sex, and sun exposure require thousands more people to seek treatment from their primary care physicians once the festivals are done.

Don’t ruin your summer festival season by not taking care of yourself. We made this guide to help you plan for your health before, during, and after any of Chicago’s great music festivals.

Prepare

Check the weather before you head out. Proper preparation can protect you from everything from weather-related discomfort to life-threatening injury. Important items to bring with you include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Clean clothes
  • Ibuprofen
  • Electrolyte drink (1 per day)
  • A personal first aid kit, including bandages in various sizes and shapes, gauze, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, and sting relief
  • Earplugs
  • Any medications you take regularly
  • Water
  • Face wipes
  • Hand sanitizer/baby wipes
  • Condoms
  • Sunglasses

During cold or rainy weather, add:

  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Blankets
  • Hand warmers
  • Jackets
  • Comfortable closed-toed shoes

In the days leading up to the event, drink plenty of water, and eat a well-balanced diet. This will help your body get plenty of essential nutrients to help you feel great while you party the night away.

Also, be sure to get plenty of rest in the weeks before your epic music festival experience. Heat, long days drinking in the sun, and late nights partying can wear you down. You do not want to burn out in the middle of the festival. Extra rest will energize you and help you make the most out of the experience.

Pack items like condoms even if you don’t think you will need them. You just never know if you will meet someone special, and you don’t want your romantic experience to end in a trip to the doctor. Likewise, you should pack and use sunscreen even if the weather is dreary. People still experience sunburns during overcast weather because the sun reflects off the clouds.

Preparing for your festival and packing essential health items will help you have the most fun possible.

Additionally, should any of this preparation fail to protect you, it is important for you take note of where you can seek medical attention.

Maintain

Drink an electrolyte drink and plenty of water each day during the festival, especially if you are dancing and/or walking around for extended periods of time. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems. Do not mix alcohol and drugs, as doing so can lead to potentially fatal reactions within your body.

Use baby wipes or antibacterial wipes to keep yourself clean during the event. Music festivals are fun, but long days in the sun and limited resources for festival goers can lead to fungal infections like jock itch and athlete’s foot. Being mindful of your hygiene and wearing clean dry socks and underwear is essential to your health.

Wear shoes in which you can walk long distances comfortably. Address small injuries like blisters, sun burns and/or small cuts as soon as possible. This will prevent small injuries from becoming worse and threatening the longevity of your music festival experience.

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and again every 2 hours. This will help prevent burns and diminish the likelihood of sun poisoning. If necessary, set alarm on your phone so you don’t forget to reapply. If you get a sunburn on the first or second day treat yourself with the following:

  • Take ibuprofen
  • Drink extra water
  • Apply aloe or sunburn care treatment
  • Take a cool shower (not cold)
  • Avoid further exposure to the sun by covering burns and wearing sunscreen

Rainy/wet weather

Rainy weather also carries its own set of challenges. Use ponchos or rain coats to keep your clothes dry. Keep your feet dry and warm with good socks and closed-toe shoes. And even if you can’t see the sun, continue using sunscreen. According to the Center for Disease Control, you can get a sunburn, “even on cloudy days.”

Post-festival care

After the festivities, you will have amazing memories of good times with old and new friends, but you may also be questioning your judgement if you did not plan for your health. Recovering from the marathon of music, dancing, alcohol, potential drug use, walking, and socializing, may take some time. The following tips may help you recover faster.

Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, and drink lots of water. Dehydration makes recovery more difficult and lowers your body’s immune system, which can cause serious health concerns in the days following a festival.

If you have a sunburn take ibuprofen and use topical sunburn relief with aloe to help the healing process. If the sunburn starts to make you feel sick, consult a doctor as soon as possible, as this may be a sign of sun poisoning.

Some additional post-festival health issues you should look out for include:

  • UTIs
  • STDs
  • Exhaustion
  • Cold / Flu

If your festival experience leaves you needing medical attention, the friendly professional staff at Innovative Express Care in Lincoln Park, can help. With the highest urgent care provider review rating in the Chicagoland area and helpful features like free parking, telemedicine (video conferencing), online booking, and accessible online medical records, we are here for your urgent care needs. Walk-ins are welcome and wait times average less than 15 minutes. We hope you enjoy your event and if you need medical assistance, come experience “healthcare evolved” at Innovative Express Care.

 

Image Source: m.gin

Medical Cannabis 101

Medical Cannabis

Dr. Khare will be one of the major speakers at Chicago Reader’s Medical Cannabis 101 presentation. Tickets are available below!

April 9, 2018 | 6:30-8:30pm (doors open at 5:45pm)
mHub | 965 W. Chicago Avenue (map)
$20 (light appetizers and beverages will be provided)

Want to better understand the science behind medical cannabis? Wondering if you or someone you know could benefit from treatments? Interested in learning how the Illinois legislature approves new conditions for the program? State Senator Don Harmon, industry experts, physicians, patients and a pharmacist will discuss the Illinois Medical Cannabis Program and share anecdotal evidence of its successes and challenges.

Discussion Topics

  • Testimonials: Success and Challenges of Treatments
  • The science behind the treatments
  • Qualifying conditions and legislative options
  • Overview of IL Medical Cannabis Program
  • Highlights of Pending Medical Cannabis Legislation

 

How to Handle a Laceration or Cut

We’ve all been there. You’re cutting up an apple to make a smoothie. As you throw a slice into the blender, you slice your hand up as well. It’s bleeding heavily. Maybe not like that Julia Child skit on Saturday Night Live, but you think you may need stitches. What now? Should you handle it yourself? Should you go to the emergency room? This guide will help.

Call 911:

  • Spurting blood
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Neck, eye, throat, chest, or abdomen wound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Severe pain
  • Light-headedness

Do not remove an embedded object from the wound!

Visit emergency care:

Here are guidelines from WebMD and UVA Medical School:

If the laceration, or cut, doesn’t stop bleeding after 5 to 10 minutes of pressure, seek treatment. If it’s on your face, genitals, across a joint, on hands, feet or chest, or if there is exposed fat, muscle tendon, or bone, go to emergency care.

Animal bite? You need treatment. Human bite? You need treatment. And possibly garlic. (If bitten by your 3-year-old, you have other problems as well.)

Go to the emergency room if the cut is gaping or jagged or may result in a large amount of scarring. If the object that caused the cut was dirty or rusty, or the cut has something embedded in it, go see a physician. Don’t try to pull the object out. It may cause more bleeding or damage.

Head for treatment if the injury looks infected. Signs of infection include redness spreading from the wound, swelling, green or yellow discharge, or warm and tender skin.

A wound on the bottom of the foot, such as a nail through the shoe, should also receive treatment from a professional.

Before your clinic visit

Keep applying pressure if the bleeding continues and hold the injury above your heart, if possible. Probably don’t try this, however, if you have a nail in your foot.

Do not apply any kind of tourniquet. Do not use peroxide, iodine, or rubbing alcohol. They may damage the tissue.

If the bleeding stops, run warm water over the cut and gently wash with mild soap. Rinse again. Apply antibiotic cream and cover the injury with gauze to prevent infection.

If bleeding resumes and the gauze gets soaked, add more pads until the bleeding ceases. Don’t remove the pads. If a bandage is used, do not remove it. If neither are available, use a clean cloth, plastic bags, or even a clean hand.

Try to remember when you had your last tetanus shot. This is a head-scratcher for many people. But do not take the time to rummage through your old papers for your shot records. You will most likely be asked, but you can estimate.

Move quickly. Don’t take time to let out the cat or bring in the dog. Don’t lower the heat or water the plants. Just go.

What to expect at the clinic

The way the laceration is treated will depend on its size, severity, and location. Repair will most likely be done using one of these methods:

  • Dermabond: This is a type of glue which is made to hold the edges of the wound together. It is used on the face, torso, arms, legs, but not on lips, joints, deep wounds, and hand or foot injuries. Don’t try this at home with Elmer’s or Gorilla Glue! They won’t work.
  • Steristrips: For shallow cuts that are clean and even.
  • Stitches: These are used for deeper cuts that have jagged edges, or exposed fat and muscle tissue.
  • Staples: Used for injuries on the scalp, neck, torso, buttocks, arms, and legs.

Innovative Express Care is the place to go, not only for urgent care for injuries and illness, but also for primary care. IEC has state-of-the-art technology, telemedicine, online appointment arrangements, innovative ideas, and transparency. IEC is the best-rated urgent care facility in the Chicago area.

Image Source: Quinn Dombrowski

Earaches and Ear Pain

There is a dull ache in your right ear and you cannot seem to shake it. Did you catch an ear infection from your toddler? Or did some water from the community pool get stuck in there? Either way, it needs to go. Earaches and ear infections can drive you crazy and turn a bomb into a whisper. What’d you say, Sonny?

Causes of ear pain

So what exactly causes that pain in your ear? Ear pain can be caused by a variety of issues from trauma to an infection. Determining the cause of the ear pain will aid in kicking it to the curb.

Earache due to cold

Earaches often stem from lingering colds. Cold viruses can sometimes cause inflammation in the sinuses and ear canals, causing ear pain. This type of earache typically presents with a mild and more gradual pain, and it usually subsides along with the cold. Taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help decrease the inflammation and ease the pain. The best course of action is to wait out the cold and treat the symptoms as they occur.

Earache due to infection

Ear pain due to an infection can often be quite severe. Ear infections are caused most commonly by bacteria infecting the middle ear causing a build up of pus and pressure. Symptoms of an ear infection often include diminished hearing, intense pain, and fever. Ear infections are typically treated with a course of antibiotics.

Ear Injuries

Ear injuries such as a ruptured ear drums can occur from any number of traumas or rough play. Ruptured ear drums and damage to the middle and inner ear can also happen by inserting items such as cotton swabs into the ears incorrectly. These injuries can cause severe pain, bleeding, and dizziness. Ear injuries are common among children and athletes who participate in contact sports. If you incur such an injury, seek immediate medical attention.

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear occurs when there is an increase in moisture in the outer ear. Activities such as swimming, showering, and bathing can contribute to the issue. The increase in moisture provides a breeding ground for bacteria that already inhabit the ear canal naturally. The increase in bacterial growth then causes an ear infection. As with other types of ear infections, a course of antibiotics should clear up a case of swimmer’s ear.

Visiting your physician.

It is important to avoid excess moisture and overcleaning your ears. If an earache persists, you may need to seek the care of a physician. Physicians will be able to test, diagnose and treat your ear pain accordingly.

Having an earache of any sort can be upsetting and uncomfortable, but at Innovative Express Care, we utilize telemedicine and the latest technology to bring you top notch care. Our staff will provide a great experience and have your ears feeling better in no time.

Image Source: Mark Probst