Telehealth and Your Child
What Is Telehealth?
One of the many ways health care providers use technology to provide medical care is with a telehealth visit. These video visits let you see a health care provider over a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Instead of going to a doctor’s office in person, your child can see their care team from the privacy of home or school.
Many primary care, urgent care, and specialty care providers offer video visits.
What Are Some Benefits of a Telehealth Visit?
Video visits make it easy to get medical care. They are convenient because you can:
- Meet with a medical or behavioral health provider from your home.
- Avoid traveling when your child is sick.
- Lessen the chance of exposing your child to other sick kids.
- Get care at night, on weekends, and on holidays.
- Follow up with specialists (like for a checkup after surgery).
- Visit with medical specialists who are far away.
When Should I Use Telehealth?
Video care visits can be used for:
- an urgent care visit to diagnose and treat an eye, skin, or breathing problem
- a follow-up appointment with a primary care or specialty care provider
- a scheduled behavioral health visit
- a well-child checkup
- health education (on topics like nutrition, breastfeeding, or how to use an asthma inhaler)
What Happens During a Telehealth Visit?
A video visit is like an in-person visit. The online provider will ask questions, do an exam, diagnose your child, and treat your child (and prescribe medicines, if needed).
The provider may ask for your help. For example, they might ask you to take your child’s temperature and weight. Or they may guide you to focus your camera in on a rash.
At the end of a video visit, you’ll get a summary of what happened. It may be sent to your child’s primary care provider too. Either way, it’s a good idea to follow up with the primary care provider directly.
What Are the Limitations of Video Visits?
Sometimes a video visit isn’t a good option. Your child may need an in-person visit if:
- Their problem must be diagnosed in-person. Some conditions need a test or a direct look at the child to diagnose the problem. Examples include urinary tract infections, strep throat, and ear infections (of the middle ear or inner ear).
- More care is needed. If that happens, the provider will tell you where to go. They might send you to your primary care provider, an urgent care clinic, or the emergency room (ER).
- A technical problem happens. There might be times when your phone, computer, or the telehealth system don’t work well. A weak Wi-Fi signal or a dropped call might mean you have to schedule an in-person visit.
- Laws restrict you from seeing a provider in another state. Providers must be licensed in the state where you are located at the time your child receives care.
Are Video Visits Expensive?
A telehealth visit usually costs less than an ER or in-person urgent care visit and is often covered by insurance.