Tackling Virtual Pediatric Visits

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Be prepared for an online doctor visit and know when it’s time to head to the emergency room.

For all families, this historic period in time — the pandemic — calls for taking action, and moving forward with the resources we have.

Technology is a life-saver for many, and it is now helping us to continue family doctor visits and consultations virtually. But where do you start?

According to Betsy A. Drake, M.D., Bon Secours Mercy Health’s System medical director for Evisits and Mercy Health Physicians — Cincinnati’s regional medical director for Primary Care — East/Central, the first step is to simply contact your pediatrician to learn about virtual care options for your child.

“They can give you different options for virtual care, such as a telephone call, video visit or e-visit with the doctor,” Drake says. “The office can help you determine what type of visit would be the most helpful for you; they can also walk you through the steps of how to successfully do the visit,” she adds.

Depending on your child’s medical condition, it may be safer for him to be seen in-person, but this should be decided by your doctor. Serious medical conditions cannot be diagnosed or treated virtually, but in many cases, Drake says conditions including acute conditions or follow ups can be attended to through your virtual doctor visit. Of course, in any emergency situation, call 911.

Prep For Your Visit

Your virtual visit, that is. Treat it like any medical visit: Write down questions in advance, jot down your child’s symptoms, as well as how long they have been occurring, have a list of current medications and allergies, and anything new you think you should share since your child’s last visit.

Anything you can do during this nontraditional visit to assist your doctor is helpful. If you are able to check your child’s blood pressure, pulse and vitals, do that, too! The internet can be your best friend, but also your worst enemy. Before your visit, make sure you have your laptop, cell or tablet ready to go, and check your Wi-Fi and internet access. For video visits, make sure your camera is working, and that the mic is on. Being prepared in advance will eliminate annoying glitches and possible dropped calls.

Drake suggests you sit in a private place with good lighting and no background noise. Save eating and drinking for after your e-visit, and never attempt a virtual visit while driving.

Your E-Visit

Now that you’re prepared, here’s what to expect. During a telephone visit, your pediatrician will ask questions about your child’s condition, discuss your concerns about your child, give medical advice and take actions such as ordering tests, medications or referrals.

What’s nice about e-visits is the doctor can view your answers from a questionnaire about your child’s health condition and provide advice and feedback right away.

“If a medication is deemed appropriate, [your doctor] will send in a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. In many cases, handouts, such as home exercises or other advice, can be provided as well,” says Drake.

BE READY FOR A VIRTUAL VISIT

• Make sure your equipment is charged; camera on; mic working, and that your Wi-Fi is working.

• Check with your insurance carrier to learn if they will cover a telehealth visit.

• Have questions and symptoms ready.

• Have pen and paper in order to write down what your pediatrician says.

• Be patient and open-minded

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of two. If you don't see her writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.

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