Should I Book A Telemedicine Appointment For My Child?

In these uncertain times, it can be nerve-wracking taking your child to the doctor. Despite medical offices taking extra cleaning and disinfection precautions, worries still cross our minds as we wonder who else in the waiting room is sick, or worry about our kids touching things and putting their hands in their mouths (or eyes or noses!). So, it’s a huge relief that many doctors’ offices are offering telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine offers the opportunity to speak with a doctor from the comfort (and safety) of your home. But, when should you opt for a telemedicine appointment and when does your child need to be brought in to your primary doctor or urgent care? 


What is telemedicine good for?


In general, telemedicine is excellent for questions and concerns that involve your child’s behavior and parameters you yourself can check out and relay back to the doctor (example, your baby is very irritable, or temperatures that can be reported to the doctor, or things that can easily be shown to the doctor via photos). Some common reasons you may opt for a telemedicine visit for your child are: cold, the flu, pain your child is experiencing, pink eye, assessing the need for stitches after a laceration, or a rash. Situations, where he or she will likely need to be seen in person, include trouble breathing, broken bones, and, in general, any situation that is an emergency. In some cases you may start off with a telemedicine visit and, from there, the doctor can make the determination as to whether in-person tests are needed. 


What should you do to prepare for a telemedicine visit?


Make sure you have all your questions and concerns written down, just as you may do during a regular doctor appointment. Especially because of the unfamiliarity of the format, you don’t want to forget any important points you meant to ask the doctor! Preferably, use a device with good video capabilities in case you need to show the doctor any concerns. Many platforms also allow for the uploading of pictures. If your child has anything needing to be viewed by the doctor, it’s a good idea to have photos of it as these will often show up much more clearly than on video. Have both a close-up view and a farther away view of the problem area so the doctor gets the whole picture, so to speak! Also, make sure that you are in a room with a lot of light. Take your child’s temperature and weight before the call and have the number handy to report to the doctor. The weight is often used to calculate medication dosing for pediatric patients.


As with regular doctor appointments, the more information you can relay to the doctor, the better. You’ll get more thorough care and advice for your child the more you’re able to describe his/her issues and behavior.


If in doubt, call your child’s pediatrician or pediatric urgent care to briefly explain your concern and ask whether a telemedicine visit is appropriate or whether your child will need to be seen in person. Most telemedicine services accept insurance, so find out if it’s an option for your child the next time you need to speak to a doctor!

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