Fall and winter are coming, and we all know what that means: Germs, germs, and more germs. Kids are back inside with all of their classmates, which makes the spreading of viruses even easier.
It’s common knowledge that fall and winter are synonymous with the flu, RSV, and other respiratory viruses. Not to mention, COVID-19 is always trying to make a comeback with highly contagious strains on the rise. As of mid-August, COVID 19 hospitalization projections have doubled since this past summer. This means that calls to your practice will likely increase as more parents need help troubleshooting their child’s ill symptoms. In addition to regular office hours and well visit appointments, is your pediatric practice ready for this influx of patient calls?
If not, don’t worry! We are here to help you lay the groundwork for the back-to-school and winter seasons. In order to be prepared, we recommend that your office use — or continue using — virtual appointments to complement your in-person practice. In this blog, we’ll discuss the optimal times for telehealth appointment times during the work day, strategies for before- and after-school virtual visits, and the benefits of an after-hour nurse triage platform.
Offering Telehealth Appointment Slots During Business Hours
Telemedicine is essential for school-aged children and their families. Anytime a patient has to wait for an evaluation, that means delaying the parent’s return to work and their child’s return to school. Parents have a limited amount of sick leave and paid time off, while kids’ attendance at school needs to remain a priority.
When parents have sick kids, they are missing work, whether in the office or at home, while simultaneously caring for a sick child. As such, 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.
These scenarios are where telemedicine can shine because you need less time and fewer staff members for virtual visits. You can conduct telehealth appointments at any point during the day when a provider is available. Plus, your patients will have improved outcomes because you, their primary care provider, are evaluating them in a timely manner. They have an established relationship with you, someone who knows their medical history. Parents will be satisfied with their child’s care because they do not have to take extra time off work. If it turns out that their child doesn’t have a contagious virus, they will not be missing extra school. In addition, if your practice still prefers to keep ill visits virtual to reduce the spread of viruses, telemedicine is a win-win.
Offer Virtual Hours Before and After the Typical Work Day
Now that kids are back in school and being exposed to all the fall and winter viruses, their parents probably want them to be seen quickly. We don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that balancing work obligations and parenting responsibilities is extremely difficult.
When a child wakes up ill, their parent’s mind immediately begins troubleshooting how they can accommodate a doctor’s appointment on top of their already full schedule. It can be extremely frustrating for parents to have to reschedule their entire day so they can squeeze in a doctor’s appointment during typical business hours.
You can combat these concerns by offering virtual appointments before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Start virtual office hours early in the morning before everyone has to report to school and work, while afternoon and evening are also convenient. These appointments can be done in the comfort of your home or at your office and can also complement your personal schedule. This virtual age of medicine makes offering before- and after-school telemedicine hours easy and convenient for providers, parents, and patients.
Utilize Anytime Pediatrics After-Hours Nurse Triage for Evening and Weekend Calls
As we enter into the season of cold and flu viruses, call volumes are bound to increase, with late night and weekend calls included. This is where an effective after-hours nurse triage can assist your patients in avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits.
Our after-hours services are staffed by on-call registered nurses with at least five years of emergency room or pediatric triage experience. They are well versed in appropriate telephone triage protocols and are able to convert telephone triage into video triage — when needed — to better assess your patients.
In addition, they use the universally approved Barton-Schmitt protocols to triage patients, keeping medical advice on a variety of symptoms from multiple providers consistent and appropriate. If they determine that a next-day appointment is necessary, Anytime After Hours has protocols in place that allow our nurses to access your scheduling preferences. Our platform can help you customize your hours and schedule the type of visits you deem appropriate to be completed virtually. Your patients will never be disconnected from a phone call without being given an appropriate treatment plan.
Anytime Pediatrics is Here to Help You for Back-to-School and Winter Seasons!
With the arrival of back-to-school season, lots of children will fall victim to the annual onslaught of random stomach bugs and respiratory infections. Telemedicine is a versatile option for your practice. Appointments can be used for sick visits before, during, or after business hours, depending on what works for your practice and is appropriate for your patients and their parents.
Incorporating telemedicine visits into the fall and winter seasons can increase provider availability and continuity of care. It also helps keep patients within the medical home and instills your patients’ families trust in you. In addition, it decreases healthcare costs and allows emergency services to be available to those who truly need that level of care.
If your practice is interested in exploring versatile telemedicine capabilities with Anytime Pediatrics, contact us today to request a consultation!