‘Tis the season!
Here we are once again coming into cooler weather which, for pediatricians and practices like yours, means cold and flu season is upon us. Parents and children are likely just weeks away from starting to sniffle and cough as the weather changes from warm to cool, humid to dry, and back and forth just a few more times.
We are willing to bet that your practice is anticipating many phone calls from concerned parents with sick kids. Because of colds, flu, and COVID-19, it can be difficult to differentiate which virus is the culprit. Of course, each of these illnesses has distinct signs and symptoms, but many respiratory viruses love to mimic one another. This leaves parents, schools, and pediatricians frustrated when trying to determine the level of care or quarantine a child needs. We all know how much easier it is to determine an appropriate treatment plan when you can actually lay eyes on the patient.
All of this gets even more complicated with another layer: Parents of multiple children with sick kids at home who have other children with appointment needs. Whether they are calling to schedule well visits, school physicals, or otherwise non-urgent healthcare requests, they are turning to the medical home to fulfill their needs.
We do have a suggestion and a solution: Telemedicine! How can telehealth help you and your office manage an influx of calls this cold and flu season?
Here are three reasons your practice should have telemedicine appointments available:
1. Telehealth Can Improve Your Workflow This Winter
Winter, with its various holidays and school breaks, can be a wonderful time of year for families. However, it inevitably brings about pesky — and at times serious — viruses. Additionally, many schools are still requiring COVID testing for children displaying cold and flu symptoms.
How does this affect the families in your care? It means that parents are missing work or working from home while simultaneously virtual schooling and caring for their sick kids. Delaying evaluation means delaying their return to work and their child’s return to school. This is costly both financially and socially. Therefore, when they call your office with concerns about their child, they want them to be seen now.
More requests for evaluation lead to an increased need for office visits, but that doesn’t always equate to an increase in the availability of providers. This is where telehealth can shine.
Less time and fewer staff members are needed for telehealth appointments, meaning these visits can be done at any point during the day when a provider is available. Your patients’ outcomes will improve because you, their provider who has an established relationship with them and who knows their medical history, are evaluating them in a timely manner.
2. Telehealth Reduces Costs for Patients and the Healthcare System
There are many times when a parent wants their child seen for what they believe to be an urgent or emergent condition. However, once you or your team have triaged the patient using appropriate protocols, you realize that they can be seen within a reasonable amount of time in the office. If your practice does not have appointments available, then these parents may choose to go to urgent care or the emergency room.
Urgent care and emergency department visits can cost upward of $2,800-$7,000. Plus, the required time and resources take away from the healthcare system being able to provide emergency services to critically ill individuals when it is managing routine complaints.
On the contrary, the cost of an in-office visit begins at $100 and increases based on the testing you order to evaluate your patient. Needless to say, it is expensive for your patients and their families to utilize services outside of the medical home.
3. Virtual Care is Appropriate for any Appointment Type
Virtual Care is a versatile option for your practice. Appointments can be used for sick visits, on-demand appointments, or scheduled well visits, depending on what works for your practice and what’s appropriate for your patient and their parents.
Incorporating telehealth visits into cold and flu season can increase provider availability and continuity of care. It also helps keep patients in the medical home and builds your patients’ families’ trust in you. In addition, it decreases healthcare costs and keeps emergency services available to those who truly need crisis care.
At Anytime Pediatrics, we are committed to serving families, even when life gets crazy as respiratory viruses wreak havoc in your communities. Telehealth can help keep you and your practices on track during this holiday season…and provide the time for you and your staff to enjoy the holidays, as well. To learn more about implementing virtual care, contact us today!