It is a Brave New World!
Starting immediately, most patients who call with problems that need to be evaluated (sick visits) are going to be scheduled for a visit with one of our providers via Telemedicine. That means we will have a secure, HIPAA compliant video conference in place of a physical visit in the office. Under our current Coronavirus concerns, this is the best way to safely provide care while following the current recommendations to keep people at home whenever possible. We hope to be able to handle most patients in this manner, although there are obviously limitations. To protect the safety of patients and staff, we will be bringing very few sick patients into the office for care at this time. Routine well visits and vaccines for healthy patients without fever or respiratory symptoms will proceed as usual at this time.
We can use a variety of internet capable devices for this purpose, including smart phones, tablets and laptops, both iOS and Android. You will need a camera and microphone. It will be important to be in a location with the best internet connection possible. We will send you a text or email with a link to the conference call for the appointment. We will need to obtain consent for telemedicine care and we can proceed. Most of these calls so far have occurred without much technical difficulty although, if you have tightly managed your security preferences some settings may need to be changed. We are working with Comcast to maximize our internet speed, so please bear with us if sound/video quality is a bit jumpy sometimes.
Most insurers at this point, including Husky, have agreed to telemedicine visits as regular visits for the immediate future. Which unfortunately does mean that co-pays and deductibles will apply as they usually would, although Aetna has announced that they will be waving these fees for their clients because of the Coronavirus emergency. There may be some bumps and growing pains as we all learn how this works, but we are not expecting any major problems from an insurance end. We will arrange a modest flat fee for patients without insurance.
We are asking ill patients who do come to the office to remain in their cars upon arrival and call us from the parking lot. We will bring you in only when we can move you directly into a room. Happily, since we will mostly be seeing well visits, there should be very few people in the office and plenty of rooms to work with. Anyone, parent or child, with a cough should be masked, but we do have only limited supplies. Please bring your own if you have them, otherwise we will provide one upon your arrival.
Recommendations from medical authorities are to stay home as much as possible at this time, especially if you are sick. Moving to a telemedicine model seems the best way for us to do this and provide needed care. We appreciate your patience and your trust as we work out the details. Stay safe and stay well!