The reality of COVID-19 has turned our world upside down in many ways. One positive outcome has been the consumer adoption of virtual doctor’s visits, also known as telehealth.
However, despite the widespread use of telehealth in the past few months, there are still many misconceptions about how it works, what can be treated or diagnosed during a telemedicine visit, and how that applies to pediatric healthcare.
With school back in session, telehealth services offer families a convenient and accessible alternative to in-person medical care. Telehealth services can provide immediate access providers, which ultimately means healthier students with reduced absences, elimination of travel time to and from a doctor’s appointments, and missed days of work for parents. Prompt access to a pediatric provider can be the difference between getting care immediately and waiting until emergency room services are needed.
As a physician working with and leading telehealth platforms, I would like to dispel many of the misconceptions about telemedicine – particularly pediatric telemedicine.
Here are some facts parents should know:
FACT: Seeing a doctor for a telemedicine consultation is now easier than ever.
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital offers two distinct and convenient services to make telehealth consultations with pediatric specialists easy and convenient. Both services are offered through Nicklaus Children's Hospital's own telehealth application called Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Virtual Care.
The hospital offers scheduled telehealth visits with physicians in more than 18 pediatric subspecialties for qualifying patients. Consultations with our specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology, and other subspecialties are by appointment only and are scheduled by contacting the physician’s office.
We also offer telehealth on-demand visits for pediatric urgent care services without an appointment, 7 days a week from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Through the on-demand, urgent care service, pediatric providers can evaluate and treat your child for common medical problems such as fever, cough or congestion, ear pain, throat pain, abdominal pain, rashes, insect bites, vomiting, diarrhea, cuts and bruises, without the need to visit a doctor’s office in person.
FACT: Many (but not all) pediatric conditions and checkups can be conducted virtually.
In general, conditions that are not suitable for telehealth are those in which an in-person visit is required to evaluate the child due to the severity of the symptoms, the necessity of a more in-depth physical exam, the need for procedures, or the need for immediate interventions.
FACT: Most non-emergency symptoms can be evaluated virtually.
The following non-emergency symptoms can be evaluated through the Nicklaus Children's Pediatric Virtual Care application:
- Fever > 100.4 (F)
- Mouth and throat complaints
- Cold Symptoms
- Eye conditions
- Skin Rash
- Insect Bites
- Menstrual Complaints
- Mild abdominal pain
If the provider considers the symptom to be part of a more serious condition that requires more in-depth evaluation, the patient will be instructed to visit our emergency room.
FACT: Virtual visits with some pediatric specialists are offered by appointment depending on the condition and nature of the visit.
Virtual visits with pediatric specialists are ideal for routine follow-up care and less time-critical consultations. Nicklaus Children’s specialists currently available to see patients virtually include:
- Allergy & immunology
- Gastroenterology (GI)
- General Pediatrics
- Infectious Disease
- Otolaryngology (ENT)
- Plastic Surgery
FACT: Your health insurance may cover virtual visits for most pediatric specialties.
Most insurance companies will cover your scheduled virtual specialist visit, as they would an in-person visit. For more information on your coverage, and expected contribution amount, please contact Nicklaus Children’s Hospital prior to your scheduled consult.
For the on-demand virtual pediatric urgent care service, there is a $49 charge. Virtual urgent care services are not covered by insurance. For COVID-19 related symptoms, the first consultation is free by entering the code KIDS19 at checkout.
FACT: If your child is restless during a virtual appointment, that’s okay. We are trained to work with children.
One of the unique aspects of our telehealth service is that we specifically focused on pediatrics.
For qualifying virtual visits, you are able to avoid touch-based procedures that are often anxiety provoking for children. By connecting from a setting your child recognizes as comfortable, the distraction efforts are remedied. If connecting from home, you may choose a bedroom, living room or play area the child identifies as a safe space.
As a pediatric-focused institution, we understand not all exam techniques are alike among children and adults. Children can be kept engaged during a medical exam when allowed to play or complete a reassuring activity.
Assessing muscle movements may involve asking the child to act like his/her favorite superhero. The child is often encouraged to talk about non-affected body parts first before focusing in on the part that is causing trouble or “hurts.”
Pediatric telehealth offers parents numerous advantages and conveniences. Our team works to make the process as user-friendly as possible. Whether pre-scheduling a visit with a pediatric specialist or signing in with a child who needs urgent care, our app has readily available resources by offering technical tips and trouble-shooting recommendations. Our team is also available on our trouble-shooting hotline.
For more information, please visit: www.nicklauschildrenspediatricvirtualcare.org