As the pandemic continues, pediatricians are offering more services than ever before through telemedicine. These include well visits, sick appointments, and lactation consultations.
While behavioral and mental health follow-ups have always been considered good candidates for video visits, many pediatricians are finding additional, unexpected advantages of conducting these appointments virtually. Here are six benefits of using telemedicine for behavioral and mental services.
The pandemic is taking a significant toll on the mental health of children all over the country, and many of them are new to medication. In those cases, it’s important that patients have more regular follow-ups, often weekly in the beginning.
Telemedicine lessens the burdens on families because they don’t have to commute or travel. This can save families hours of travel time and relieve them of some financial strain to receive care.
Patients are usually most comfortable in their home. Since telemedicine allows children and families to stay in their own environment, it’s a great fit for pediatric care.
In addition, telehealth means providers can see patients’ behaviors with those they’re comfortable with — parents, siblings, or even pets — and watch the interaction. This offers a bird’s eye view into the child’s space, which is a striking difference from a clinical setting where only the clinician and the patient are present. During virtual visits when patients are in their homes, providers might notice social determinants of health. If there are gaps in care or other needs, such as food insecurity, providers can direct families to community resources.
Even though telemedicine is not in-person care, many providers and families find ways to connect and engage differently than they do during office visits. For example, pediatricians can use simple tricks, like a virtual background that interests the child, to get better interaction and more responses from the patient.
Plus, virtual visits let patients show providers things in their home, such as their favorite toys or artwork on the refrigerator. This gives a new, otherwise unseen look at the child’s life that often guides pediatricians, helping them interact in new ways and incorporating different methods of care for the patient.
A unique feature of virtual visits is a level of privacy that’s more convenient for parents and clinicians. How does this work? Pediatric telehealth means parents can step away with their device to talk separately with the pediatrician if necessary. This is especially helpful when parents and the provider want to discreetly discuss an intense situation or incident without the child in the room.
Similarly, if a child wants to confide in their pediatrician privately, telehealth allows for that. In the comfort of their own home, some children may have more to say about how they’re truly doing mentally, including when a parent’s not in earshot.
Many young adults prefer to keep seeing their pediatrician even after they’ve turned 18. Their families like it because they have a long-standing relationship with the physician, and providers enjoy the opportunity to see their older patients into adulthood.
Telehealth means young adults who still see a pediatrician can continue to receive behavioral and mental health care, even if they’re away at college. Providing ongoing care for college-aged young people used to be a challenge, especially for those who went to school far away. Phone calls are usually not sufficient for these check-ins, but clinicians are finding telemedicine allows them to continue growing relationships with their patients in college.
During standard office visits, families often arrive with paperwork, such as IEPs or documentation from other specialists. With pediatric telehealth, parents are easily able to share electronic copies of these documents.
Likewise, telemedicine enables providers to share information digitally; that could mean written resources, videos, or podcasts. This approach is more user-friendly for busy families who might lose a paper handout in the car or house. Another advantage of digital resources is that the clinician can explain important points in real-time during the virtual visit and immediately answer any follow-up questions.
The Anytime Pediatrics virtual care solution allows you to provide access to quality mental and behavioral health care from anywhere. To learn more about how we can benefit you, contact us today!