Families don’t have to leave home to receive care from the experts they trust at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Each week, between 10-15% of Lurie Children’s ambulatory visits are conducted by telemedicine. With the need for social distancing, this option has become more important for families than ever before. Every division within the Lurie Children’s Department of Surgery – Dentistry, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Transplant Surgery and Urology – offers virtual telemedicine appointments for families when appropriate. The visits occur using a secure, private and HIPAA-compliant system. Language interpreting services are available for telemedicine visits as well.
For many patients, virtual visits with providers mean they can be seen sooner for consultations, discussing test results, obtaining second opinions and completing pre- and post-operative appointments. Providers can also reach more families since transportation to the hospital or one of its outpatient facilities is not a factor for virtual visits.
“We as clinical providers are being flexible in this unusual situation to modify our practice using telemedicine,” said Jill Larson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, “For example, I was able to counsel a family on how to appropriately wean out of the Pavlik harness, which was being used to treat their child’s dysplasia of the hip. The family was very appreciative that we could do this virtually.”
Another way that telemedicine is being used creatively is when many providers can be present simultaneously in a virtual “room” with patient families.
“This opportunity has minimized repetition of health history, and has ensured all providers completed the interview with similar information, resulting in a more complete and succinct plan of care,” said Lurie Children’s otolaryngologists Taher Valika, MD, and Jonathan Ida, MD.
Telemedicine has other benefits, too. “It has allowed us to extend the reach of our program to more patients from outside our area who might not have been able to benefit from our services previously due to distance,” said Sandi Lam, MD, Division Head of Pediatric Neurosurgery.
In addition, patients have benefited from telemedicine’s increased efficiency. Some patients with time-sensitive surgical needs have been scheduled to undergo surgery within a week of their telemedicine appointment.
When a telemedicine appointment is confirmed, families will receive an email with instructions on how to download a free and secure telemedicine app to their mobile device, tablet or computer – any device with a camera.
Families are asked to send documents or records to their provider ahead of time and find a private, well-lit spot for the visit. On the day of the appointment, families should check in at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. The family will receive an email in advance of their visit that will explain how to start the video visit, and how to restart the visit if they get disconnected. For more details about telemedicine appointments, read this article, “What to expect during a telemedicine visit”.
Some appointments will still require patients to be seen in person, but in many cases a telemedicine visit is available. Families and pediatricians should call KIDS DOC (1.800.543.7362) to set up a virtual appointment. For more information about Lurie Children’s response to COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 resources page on LurieChildrens.org.