Taking Your Child to Their First Telemedicine Visit? 8 Tips for Getting Started
By Mick Connors, MD, Founder and CEO
Telemedicine, a.k.a. virtual care, makes accessing your regular, trusted pediatrician – or another trusted pediatrician – more convenient than ever before. This can be especially helpful when your child has a non-urgent medical need after hours, or when a trek to the doctor’s office or ER just isn’t practical or safe.
While a telemedicine visit is a lot like what many of us experience regularly with technologies like FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts, the idea of virtual care can still be nerve-wracking for some. If you’re a parent or caregiver wondering “How will it work?” “Will it work?” or “How do I get started,” we offer these tips (along with a reminder that telemedicine is much like those calls you’ve made to your doctor’s office in the past, but with the wonderful benefit of your doctor being able to see you and your child).
1. Make sure you’ll see your pediatrician or another trusted pediatrician. Begin by asking your regular doctor if they offer telemedicine or ask about where you should seek care outside of office hours. If you seek care outside of someone you know, then ask if they have the pediatric training to care for your child. NOTE: You should not wait for a telemedicine visit or on a phone call if you have an emergency situation. Call 911 or head to the nearest ER.
2. Gather the necessary information before your virtual visit begins.
· Know your child’s medical history, including details on any allergies or chronic healthcare issues.
· Have a list of your child’s current medications.
· Know your child’s temperature and weight.
3. Be prepared to share about your most pressing concern. The doctor will want to know what’s going on, when the issue/situation arose, how long it’s been a concern, and what symptoms are present – and their severity.
4. Find a quiet, well-lit space for your visit. This will help ensure you’re not interrupted or distracted and that the doctor can see you and your child clearly. It’s also helpful to have your camera set-up at your eye-level.
5. Begin with introductions. If you’re seeing someone other than your regular pediatrician, the physician should begin by sharing his or her name, title, specialty and location. Feel free to ask these questions if they are not offered. Next, you should confirm your information: your name and your child’s name, your child’s date of birth, your current location, and the name of your regular pediatrician. You should also have completed a treatment consent form or at least be asked for your consent by the doctor.
6. Understand the process. After introductions, your doctor will want more information on your primary concern (see #3 above) and to see your child on screen. Next, he or she will likely ask questions about your child’s medical history and then return to the reason for the visit, conducting a virtual examination and assessment. Finally, the physician will help you decide on next steps.
7. Understand the limitations of telemedicine. While telemedicine can be incredibly effective, there are some situations in which your child may still need to be seen in-person, either immediately or during regular office hours. The good news is your telemedicine doctor can help guide you as to the best place to take your child – and when. Much of the time though, your doctor will be able to offer you great advice, diagnose minor conditions, offer a prescription if needed and give you guidance on signs or symptoms to watch for.
8. Ensure clarity and closure before you say goodbye. Before your virtual visit ends, make sure you understand the doctor’s diagnosis, instructions and advice. You may want to use the “teach back” method (commonly used in healthcare settings) in which you repeat back to the doctor what you heard them say, including what you need to do next. You can also ask to have a copy of instructions and next steps sent to you via email.
Still nervous? Don’t be. Just talk to your pediatrician about telemedicine, and remember that the technology is great, especially if it can connect you to your doctor when you need him or her most.
Want to learn more about telemedicine and how Anytime Pediatrics can connect you and your trusted pediatricians in a new way? Connect with us.