Not everything about the COVID-19 pandemic has been bad. I know I have enjoyed some extra family time, and have adjusted to a slower pace of life. Here at the office it has definitely highlighted how dedicated and resilient our staff is. It has also been a motivator for change. Because of the pandemic we had our first drive-through flu clinic, and it was such a success we want to do it that way every year! And out of necessity it pushed us to adopt telehealth visits much faster than we would have otherwise. What seemed like a daunting two-year project we put together in one week!
It has been a bit of a learning curve, and we have tried a number of different platforms. Beginning Monday, May 3rd we hope to roll out our final telehealth platform, Anytime Go. We think you will find this easy to use and reliable. Here are some reasons we chose it, and we think you’ll like it too.
- It is designed for pediatrics, so it can tell the difference between parents and patients. You will be able to set up your whole family on one account.
- You can download the app, but you can also use a web browser.
- If you forget how to log in, the link will always be here on our website.
- You can send us pictures on Anytime Go during your visit, or through the portal.
- When using your phone’s front-facing camera, you can use your flashlight during the visit; no more trying to balance a phone and a flashlight!
- We can have multiple people join the visit; if your teen is at home and both parents are at work, we can have you all join in at the same time.
Anytime Pediatrics has some helpful guides and videos, in English and Spanish. In addition to the 2-minute video above, they have more in-depth videos for using Anytime Go on the web and with a downloadable app.
Telehealth has been a great tool. It has improved appointment access, and has been a wonderful way to stay in touch with teens struggling with the common mental health issues brought about by the pandemic. I have loved seeing your artwork, your pets, and your sibling video bombs. We look forward to using it to stay in touch with you even when the pandemic is over!
What is a telehealth visit?
Telehealth is a broad term that includes any health encounter done though a virtual process. For our clinic, it specifically means video calls over a secure platform.
Why are you doing telehealth visits?
Telehealth is a very useful tool that allows us to see more of our patients at times and places that are convenient for you. While we had plans to incorporate telehealth visits into our practice in the near future, the COVID-19 epidemic has kick-started this process much sooner! It allows us to provide good continuity of care while maintaining social distancing. Although in the future we will want to see every painful ear and listen to coughing lungs in-person, right now for many appointments the safest thing to do is a telehealth visit.
How can I get a telehealth appointment?
You may either call the office to schedule the appointment, or request it through the portal.
What equipment do I need?
All you need is a smart phone or a computer with a web camera and microphone. Internet or Wi-Fi is preferable to phone data for a better connection. Also, visit connections are better if you stop streaming anything else during your visit.
What kind of appointments can be done by telehealth?
There are many appointments that can be done well over telehealth. These include mental health and behavioral evaluations and follow-ups, medication checks, and chronic disease follow-ups. Many sick patients can also be seen through telehealth first; if needed you may be asked to bring your child in for drive-by testing or into the office for an exam.
Once I have an appointment, what do I do?
It’s a good idea to register when the appointment is first made so that there is time to get assistance if needed. You do NOT need to enter your insurance information.
On the day of your appointment, log on to the Anytime App or the web portal about 10 minutes before your appointment time. When you start the visit you will be required to enter the patient’s weight; if you do not have a scale, you may enter your best guess. You can then enter your child’s medications. If you’d like, you can also upload a photo. Here are some instructional videos for starting an appointment on the app or the online portal. If your doctor is behind schedule, you should receive a phone call or text from the office.
There may be times where we will want to start a visit right away, instead of scheduling it later. In that case we will send an instant invite to your phone or email.
Can family members join the visit from different locations?
You bet! With Anytime Go up to 5 people can join the visit. That way we can be talking to your teen at home and you at work at the same time. Once the visit is started, the physician can invite the others by email or phone. They will receive a link to join.
How is telehealth billed?
Face-to-face video appointments are billed following the same guidelines that apply for an in-office visit. During the pandemic, most insurances are paying for telehealth visits the same as for in-person, meaning your copay or co-insurance would be the same. This is not true for all insurances, and may not be permanent.
My wifi is glitchy. Can we just do the visit over the phone?
Phone visits are very different from a video visit. They may be appropriate for some situations, but video visits are our preferred method for doing high-quality, safe, and appropriate telehealth care. While insurances have implemented payment parity for audiovisual visits, many of them will not pay for phone visits; therefore you may get a bill.
Why can’t we just use FaceTime?
While telehealth visits can be very convenient, we still want to follow best practice guidelines. Just like we wouldn’t send any patient information over email, we want to use high-quality, encrypted applications for telehealth visits. This keeps your information secure.