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Holiday Emergencies: What Happens When Patients Can’t Reach Their Pediatrician?

By November 22, 2021 No Comments

The holiday season is upon us. Most children will be on break from school, and some parents will plan trips for their crew to see loved ones. Whether they stay home or take a getaway, many families will enjoy winter activities, such as ice skating, sledding in the snow, or marveling at twinkling lights.

While holiday festivities are full of harmless fun, there is always the chance someone could get hurt or sick. Perhaps a youngster falls on a slippery sidewalk or maybe the baby develops a respiratory infection. No parent wants to deal with a sickness or an injury on a holiday, but it’s a possibility. 

If it happens to one of your patients and you’re not available, how will it affect the family? Read on to learn more about this unwanted scenario and what happens when patients can’t reach their pediatrician.

What Are the Options When Your Office is Closed?

Many folks take time off work at some point during the holiday season. It’s common, and most people understand that your pediatric office is not going to be open on major holidays. But if a child does need medical attention during these times, what are the options for families?

Dr. Google

The internet allows people to have access to lots of health information. Your patients’ parents can simply type in their child’s most worrisome symptom, and search engines will return results that tell them the youngster has anything from the common cold to cancer. The popularity of this phenomenon called “Dr. Google” has skyrocketed in recent years.

It’s good for patients to be informed about their health. However, depending on the site’s credibility, information from the internet could be misleading or inaccurate. In addition to increasing anxiety, Dr. Google is never a substitute for a conversation with a trained clinician.

Urgent Care

Many families turn to urgent care or retail clinics when their primary doctor is not available. These centers are often open on holidays, and they’re usually conveniently located.

The downside is that when your patients go to urgent care, they’re getting care outside the medical home. The provider doesn’t know the child or the family, and the clinic doesn’t have access to the patient’s medical records, health history, or family history.

Emergency Department

Of course, emergency departments are always open — in the middle of the night and on weekends and holidays. Most parents whose children become sick or injured during these times are looking for reassurance. The ER may eventually provide that after long wait times and fragmented care outside the medical home, but the majority of families are left with sky-high medical bills and a nagging sense that perhaps their child’s situation wasn’t quite an emergency after all.

And, unfortunately, that’s because it probably wasn’t. In fact, only about 5 percent of after-hours pediatric calls warrant a trip to the emergency department. In addition, these unnecessary emergency department visits place a financial strain on the healthcare system.

Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth

Telemedicine is a valid, versatile option when your office is closed. But if your practice doesn’t provide it, your families may turn to general telehealth services offered online or through insurance plans. Don’t let that happen to you!

When you make telemedicine an option for your patients, they have access to your care after hours. This keeps them in the medical home, connected to you, their trusted provider who specializes in pediatrics.

What Are the Benefits of Virtual Care When Your Office is Closed?

Offering an after-hours care solution has benefits for your patients, your practice, and the healthcare system as a whole. Here are three positive impacts.

After-Hours Care Provides Reassurance to Parents

With After-Hours Nurse Triage, if a patient suffers a holiday emergency and the parent calls your office, a qualified RN triages the situation. Depending on their assessment and your availability, they may create a virtual visit with you immediately, refer to another pediatric provider, or schedule an appointment for the next business day. When parents have access to this after-hours care, they get much needed reassurance during what’s probably an already stressful time — the holiday season. Plus, they feel confident, knowing they’ve received quality assessment and care from you, their pediatrician, or a health professional you trust.

After-Hours Care Positively Affects Your Practice’s Bottom Line

With our After-Hours Nurse Triage solution, about 20 percent of patient calls can be converted into billable telehealth visits. In addition, approximately half of all after-hours patient calls result in next-day, in-person appointments. Both of these options lead to significant revenue for your practice that otherwise would have been lost to unnecessary urgent care or emergency department visits.

Telehealth Reduces Financial Strain on Hospitals

Of course, there are times when a trip to an urgent care or the emergency department is appropriate. But avoidable visits place a burden on the healthcare system. In addition to being expensive — averaging anywhere from $2,800-$7,000 — unnecessary urgent care and emergency room visits take away time and resources from caring for critically ill individuals. When your pediatric practice is able to manage routine complaints and complications through after-hours care, you are helping to reduce this burden on the healthcare system.

Learn More About Anytime After Hours

Anytime Pediatrics was founded with the goal of helping children get the care they need and deserve. And sometimes, children need pediatric care on holidays. With our after-hours care solution, the families you serve receive reassurance and safe medical guidance, all while ensuring you and your team enjoy the holidays. For more information about our after-hours care solution, request a consultation!

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