It’s January. Temperatures are dropping. Snow is falling. Kids are back to school following the holidays. And news reports are proclaiming what pediatricians already know: Flu season is here. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when your answering service is overrun with calls and your entire team is struggling to find a way to serve so many anxious parents and sick kids.
So, how is a pediatrician or practice leader to manage this annual challenge? Assessing patients over the phone using a telephone triage tool, like the one below from our colleagues Drs. Barton Schmitt and Drew Hertz’s book “Pediatric Telephone Protocols,” is one option. Such tools provide great guidance, but can be less than ideal during peak flu season, since they (wisely) acknowledge the limitations of voice-only consults and, as such, err on the side of “over referring” for evaluation.
Referring your patient to the pediatric emergency department is another option, but knowing they may wait hours to be seen comes with its own challenges. Plus, the weather outside is frightful and driving anywhere may create additional risk.
A third option is to lean on a virtual care software solution. A telemedicine tool like Anytime Pediatrics lets you connect with your patients face-to-face, but without requiring an in-office visit. Used during regular office hours, it can help you better determine who needs to be “squeezed in” and who can wait until tomorrow (or, perhaps, doesn’t need to come in at all). Used after hours, it can help you or your on-call partner or nurse more confidently refer to the ED, if needed, or offer clearer guidance for at-home care. Just think about it…with a video visit, suddenly you can really evaluate respiratory distress or “looking better” or “just seems off.” (Not to mention the comfort your parents will feel when seeing their trusted pediatrician – and having their trusted pediatrician see them.)
Yes, the flu season is upon us. How will your office handle the surge in call volumes and appointment requests, and the needs of anxious families worried about their child’s fever, cough, congestion, and difficulty feeding? A virtual care software solution can be the answer.
Want to learn more? Let’s connect.