As a pediatrician, you’ve probably seen an uptick in summer-related injuries, illnesses, bug bites, and rashes. With some planning, though, you can teach the families in your community how to stay healthy and safe this summer, while also letting them know that you’re there for them when they need you.
In fact, summer is a great time to enhance your pediatric care through telehealth. With children out of school and many families traveling, virtual appointments are accessible and convenient. In this blog, we’ll explore the types of video visits that are appropriate for summer and empower you with the information you need to provide high-quality care from anywhere!
Types of Telehealth Visits During Summer
Several of the most common summer ailments also have visual elements that make them well suited for telemedicine. In some cases, you can use images that caregivers have taken — often at various stages — in combination with what you can see on video to make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.
Here are six types of telehealth visits worth adding:
Remind your patients about preventing bug bites by applying insect repellant and wearing clothing that covers legs and arms, especially in wooded areas. The most frequent culprits are mosquitoes, bees, wasps, spiders, and ticks. Redness and itchiness are common but are typically not cause for concern. However, ticks can spread Lyme disease, a condition that can be treated if caught early. Teach families to look for the tell-tale red rash with a bull’s eye center and call you immediately for a telehealth visit if they spot it.
Common summertime skin concerns, like poison ivy and heat rash, can be itchy and uncomfortable. Heat rash usually clears on its own after three or four days, but encourage parents to watch for signs of infection, such as pain, redness, swelling, warmth, pus, fever, or chills. Meanwhile, most families can manage poison ivy at home, but severe cases may warrant a telehealth appointment with you.
Whether they’re riding bikes or scooters, running with friends, or jumping over puddles, youngsters are prone to minor injuries, like scrapes and sprains. Remind families to require helmets when riding bikes and scooters. Some little ones might also benefit from knee or elbow pads. These types of injuries usually need ice and rest, but families should know they can count on you for reassurance and treatment if necessary.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest between the hours of about 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so encourage young people to stay inside or play in the shade during these times. If they are outside, protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats are helpful. Children six months and older should cover exposed skin with SPF of at least 30. Remind parents that if a baby younger than six months gets a sunburn or a sunburn blisters on a child of any age, they can schedule a virtual visit.
Any time a child sweats a lot and doesn’t keep up their water intake, they can be at risk for dehydration. This is more likely during outdoor activities, like hiking or biking, or simply playing at the beach or in your own backyard. Make sure parents know the symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include headache, muscle cramps, not using the bathroom, and darker urine.
Otitis externa, often known as swimmer’s ear, is a common summertime complaint, especially for children who spend a lot of time in the water. Ear pain is the primary symptom, which is actually easy to pick up on via video when the child or a caregiver pulls or presses on the outer ear. The area may also be red and swollen. Parents can feel reassured, knowing the treatment is simple — at-home pain management, perhaps with the addition of antibiotic ear drops.
Benefits of Telemedicine During Summer
In addition to common summer ailments, many families rely on telemedicine for conjunctivitis, mental and behavioral health, viral illnesses, and allergies and asthma. Offering a strong telehealth presence during the summer is a great way to stay connected with all patients. Let’s explore three benefits of telemedicine during the summer season.
You can conduct virtual appointments from where you are and reach patients where they are. This means you can be in your office, in your home, or somewhere else if you’re traveling. Telemedicine gives this flexibility, but it also means patients have ease of access to you. Even if families are on vacation or children are attending camps, they can still connect with you.
The summer months are a great time to talk to patients about their school year, review how they’re doing academically, and ask what activities they participate in. Listening and connecting in this way is meaningful, and it reinforces the medical home. You can also discuss mental health and do medication follow-ups. Teens especially tend to open up more when they’re in their own home. Plus, they’re used to talking to people via video call.
When you’re available to your patients via telehealth, they can receive high-quality treatment and you can generate additional revenue. Whether you’re treating acute illnesses or managing chronic conditions, telehealth makes your pediatric care accessible and convenient. In addition, telemedicine reduces costs, hospital admissions (and re-admissions), and ER visits.
How to Educate Families about Telehealth During Summer
Patients and their families want to know which types of appointments are appropriate for telemedicine and when you are available for video visits. It’s important to communicate with your patients about these options. Here are several ways to spread the word about telehealth during the summer:
- On-hold messaging
- Practice website
- Social media
- In-office posters and brochures
- Patient engagement materials from Anytime Pediatrics
Remember: Telemedicine is your virtual front door. Patients and their parents need to know when it’s open and how to enter it for everyone to receive the full benefits. To learn more about the Anytime Pediatrics telemedicine solutions and how our team can support you with patient engagement, request a consultation!