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When parents call their child’s physician, they may be offered a telemedicine or an in-person visit.
Telemedicine or virtual visits use technology that links patients with medical professionals when they are in different locations. Pediatricians have used telemedicine for years, and many are now using this more since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
When Is Telemedicine a Good Choice for My Child?
Telemedicine can evaluate children for many different situations. The visits should ideally be with the child’s primary care professional (PCP) or a clinician who sends records back to the child’s PCP.
Where Can Patients Have a Telemedicine Visit?
Visit locations can be flexible and can include home or a health care setting. From your home, PCPs can evaluate urgent problems, such as colds, rashes, or minor injuries, or follow up with chronic conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Also, specialists can use telemedicine to conduct initial or follow-up appointments, especially when children live far away from the office. Mental health professionals can offer counseling over telemedicine while children are at home.
When your child is at a hospital, emergency department, or local medical office that does not have certain pediatric specialists, telemedicine services can be used so that pediatric specialists can complete evaluations from a different location. Some schools also offer telemedicine visits with PCPs or specialists to evaluate urgent concerns or follow up about chronic conditions. Parents can join in the 3-way visit from work or home or can be at school too.
Tips for the Visit
Before the visit, make sure you have a working computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Ensure a good cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Consider a location such as a private room in a library or community center or ask others in the home to stop using devices during the visit. Download any applications needed for the visit. Test the camera, microphone, speaker, and any special features needed, such as those for vision or hearing impairment. If you or your child have hearing or vision impairment or prefer a language interpreter, there are modifications that can be made to make the visit work for you.
During the visit, the child, the parent/caregiver, and the health care professional should be in quiet and private areas. Caregivers will be asked to provide a telephone number in case there are connection issues. Like office visits, caregivers and children will provide information, ask questions, and participate in the child’s plan of care. Caregivers will participate in the examination and may be asked to assist by directing the child or by following directions from the health care professional.
While telemedicine is not meant to replace in-person visits, telemedicine offers additional ways to provide medical care. It is recommended that all children see their PCP for routine health visits, vaccines, and any time an in-person examination is needed to provide the best care. Talk to your pediatrician about what telemedicine services are available to your child and how it can benefit their medical care.
For More Information
Published Online: September 27, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2284
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Drs Fitzgerald and Paradise-Black reported grants from the University of Florida Children’s Miracle Network during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.
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Fitzgerald MJ, Thompson LA, Paradise-Black NM. What to Expect at a Pediatric Telemedicine Visit. JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 27, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2284
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