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Navigating the World of Telemedicine

The coronavirus pandemic has had a monumental impact on life in every corner of our community.

Our corner of the community is primary care pediatrics. At Annapolis Pediatrics, and most other primary care practices, we have had to rapidly shift to a new model of health care delivery. Unlike hospitals nationwide, which have been busy caring for acutely ill patients with COVID-19, the offices of Annapolis Pediatrics have fallen strangely and suddenly silent. Our niche is providing urgent non-acute care, as well as preventive care, but our offices can often have energy-filled waiting rooms on a normal day. Children still need our attention and will continue to have all of the usual childhood illnesses they always have, despite the pandemic. The goal of offices like ours has been to figure out a way to still see children for their basic needs, as well as sick care, while continuing to offer parents advice – while still social distancing and protecting ourselves and our staff from COVID-19. Enter the era of telemedicine!

Telemedicine is the delivery of health care via a secure video link. There are many platforms for this, and they have made it easy for health care providers to sign up quickly and start use immediately. In our offices, it took about two days for us to completely pivot to having most of our care of sick patients start with a virtual visit. A virtual visit involves face-to-face communication with your doctor or nurse practitioner from your computer, phone or tablet.

During a virtual visit, a provider would obtain the very same history that they would obtain if you were sitting in their office; this part is no different from every other visit. Obviously, the largest limitation of a virtual visit is the lack of a complete physical examination; however, astute and experienced providers can gather extensive information about your child’s health just by simple observation. An active child, running around the room, tells us that there is not likely to be any significant respiratory distress. A provide can ask you to shine a flashlight in your child’s throat; they can observe breathing; they can observe general demeanor in regard to pain level. One looming memory of medical training is the teaching that most diagnoses can be obtained purely by taking a good history. Telemedicine has made us think more carefully about the information we gather from parents.

Of course, not all medicine can be practiced via video – part of our job in a virtual visit is to determine who needs to come into our office, and how we can do this safely for all during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some offices, ours included, may choose to have you wait in your car with your child, and a provider may peek in their ear in the parking lot! We are doing out best to provide the exceptional care that our families are used to – in ways that won’t jeopardize our health and the health of the community.

If you are an Annapolis Pediatrics patient, or the patient of another provider in the area that may be offering virtual visits, here are a few tips for preparing for your virtual visit:

1. Set up your video (phone or computer typically) in a quiet place with good lighting. Enable your microphone and camera on the device used for your virtual visit.

2. Have your child with you and nearby, as the provider will need to see the child during the visit.

3. Dress your child in easy to remove clothing. The provider may want to assess breathing rate or look at skin. (Going back to #1, if the quality of the video connection is very good, it will make the providers ability to assess your child easier.)

4. Have a flashlight or camera light available in case the provider needs to look into your child’s throat.

5. If you can weigh your child and take his or her temperature prior to your visit, it can be helpful information. Do not worry if it is not possible. In most cases, the provider can make their assessment without this information.

And remember, a virtual visit is a medical assessment, like every other office visit. Virtual visits are billed through your insurance just like a regular visit.

At Annapolis Pediatrics, and at primary care medical practices nation-wide, we are struggling to maintain our business of providing health care to this community. Telemedicine is one way for us to remain there for our patients during this difficult time where kids still get sick with other things and basic care cannot be ignored. Our goal is to remain in place to provide vital medical service to our families, and we intend to continue this mission after this pandemic has subsided.

We have provided pediatric care to Annapolis and the surrounding area for well over 70 years, and we do not intend to stop now!

We look forward to seeing you for a virtual visit soon. Stay home, stay safe and stay well.

Article written by: Dr. Katherine S.K. Edwards

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About Annapolis Pediatrics:

For 70 years, Annapolis Pediatrics has provided superior healthcare to infants, children, adolescents, and young adults in Annapolis and the surrounding communities. In some cases, we have cared for three generations of families. We strive to provide high quality medical care, from excellent clinical care to a positive customer experience for our patients and their parents.

We have over 30 physicians and nurse practitioners in 5 locations: Annapolis, Crofton, Edgewater, Severna Park, and Kent Island. We usually also offer Monday through Friday walk-in hours at our Annapolis office for short sick visits (walk-ins are currently not available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

For more tips and information from your local pediatrician, visit us at:
Website: https://annapolispediatrics.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnapolisPediatrics/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnapPeds
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/AnnapolisPediatrics/

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