Although telehealth adoption was already on the rise before Covid-19, the demand for virtual care has significantly increased since March 2020, which saw a 154% surge in telehealth visits. As healthcare specialties began adapting to telehealth, pediatricians in particular started recognizing the benefits of virtual visits for children as well as how it offered parents more options to actively participate in their child’s plans of care. While safeguarding loved ones from virus exposure was a chief concern throughout the pandemic, parents saw that telehealth also gave them the flexibility and convenience to seek continuity of care for their children without even having to leave the comforts of their own home.
Telehealth offers clear opportunities for pediatric professionals to engage with young patients, but you should take steps to position yourself for success. First, you need to understand why telehealth is growing in popularity and how technology-enabled visits empower family participation. Next, you need to foster optimal communication habits by seeking clarity on why working with pediatric patients is different from working with adults. In addition, you should know how to efficiently implement telehealth as well as encourage virtual care progress to ensure positive experiences for your patients and their caretakers.
Why Is Telehealth Becoming More Popular In Pediatrics?
Telehealth is becoming increasingly popular with parents because it is much easier to schedule doctor visits online instead of driving to an office. With telehealth, parents can better fit visits into their family routines and may be able to avoid missing work, disrupting school schedules or canceling activities. In addition, the convenience and accessibility of telehealth can allow patients to connect with referral specialists that may be further from their homes, which is a great benefit to those managing chronic conditions or for people who live in rural areas.
Despite some common assumptions, parents and clinicians are finding that many medical conditions can be effectively addressed virtually. In fact, the American Medical Association and Wellness Council of America reports nearly 75 percent of all doctor, urgent care or emergency room visits can be handled properly via videoconference and remote patient monitoring technologies. While in-person care may be necessary for some patients, telehealth visits can act as the first step in making an initial assessment and finding the right care provider.
Another benefit of telehealth is that family members involved in the care of a child can participate with ease. During virtual visits, physicians can view the interaction between the patient and family members as well as ask questions, share screens and participate from varying locations, all of which lead to more productive virtual visits.
How Does Telehealth Differ For Pediatric Patients?
At times, working with children remotely can be more challenging than working with adults. Young children may not always be attentive during a visit and often may not be able to answer pediatrician’s questions. Furthermore, adolescents or young teens may naturally be reticent and less comfortable sharing personal details with medical professionals. As a result, having family members present regardless of their locations can make pediatric telehealth visits more successful.
One significant advantage of telehealth is that visits typically take place where children are comfortable in their home environment. Going to the doctor can worry children since they may feel concerned about seeing unfamiliar people or getting a shot. At home, however, children are often far more relaxed and can give clinicians unrestrained access to their daily life. With virtual visits, pediatricians can also better gauge young patient’s developmental milestones by seeing them in their natural state and gaining a better sense of their everyday routines.
How Can You Institute Telehealth In Your Pediatric Practice?
To offer telehealth visits, you need a smart device–such as a computer, laptop, or tablet–that has both audio and video, along with a high-speed Internet connection. Also, you should be in a space with adequate lighting to ensure that patients can see you clearly during their visits. Most importantly, however, you need HIPAA-compliant telehealth software that allows you to connect to your patients securely and privately.
When seeking telehealth technology, look for an all-in-one platform that offers more than just virtual visits. Top-tier solutions provide digital communication tools that let you consistently build relationships by keeping in touch throughout the entire patient journey by way of blast email campaigns, text notifications and even automated surveys or clinical questionnaires. Also, these solutions should support billing and payment integrations that let your practice retrieve revenue faster and most importantly extend improved price transparency to your patients.
Telehealth allows you to serve more patients and keep up with the demand for virtual care. When performed correctly, it can also help improve the quality of treatment and provide convenient access to those who may not be able to attend in-person visits so easily. However, given the need for security and privacy, the right software is essential for every pediatric practice that wants to offer telehealth. You should choose an all-in-one solution that empowers virtual visits while supporting efficient communications, intuitive engagement and interoperable billing.