So, you need to visit the pediatrician. Maybe your little one has come down with a fever; maybe it is just time for a regular checkup — whatever the reason, you probably aren’t looking forward to sitting in a germ-filled pediatric waiting room with an impatient kid. Fortunately, there could be a better solution: telehealth.
Virtual doctor’s visits have exploded in availability thanks to the pandemic, and it is likely that you can reach your pediatrician (or another knowledgeable and skilled children’s healthcare provider) online instead of bothering to brave an in-person appointment. Here’s what you can expect from a virtual pediatric visit and how you can make the most of your time with your child’s digital doctor.
Only Book Virtual Visits When the Issue Isn’t Urgent
While teleparamedicine is rapidly improving, emergency care isn’t best delivered over the web. If your child is experiencing symptoms that require immediate treatment — like if they are choking, have a dangerously high fever, are experiencing severe pain or something else — you need to call emergency services or go to the hospital right away. Virtual visits are only appropriate for pediatric patients when they do not need hands-on examinations or treatments, as with typical well-child appointments.
Prepare Your Tech for Your Virtual Visit
You might want to test out your tech before it comes time for your virtual visit. To start, you should have a reliable internet connection as well as a connected device with video and audio capabilities. If you aren’t comfortable using your device, you might keep someone on standby to help you troubleshoot during your visit.
You might also want to explore the platform you will use for your virtual visit. Different health care providers use different services; some are incredibly easy to navigate, like Everyday Doctor, while others are a bit less intuitive than you might hope. You should spend some time creating a profile and clicking around the website (or app) so you know where to go when it is time for your kid’s virtual visit.
Set up a Good Environment for a Virtual Visit
You get frustrated when you video chat with the grandparents and they are in a pitch-black room with a horrible echo — so you shouldn’t do the same thing to your pediatrician. The best environment for a virtual visit is properly illuminated, so the camera can see your entire face and the face of your little one. Perhaps more importantly, the environment should be free of distractions, like people walking through the frame and pets knocking over your device.
You might also want to give yourself a few key items to use during your virtual visit. Your pediatrician will likely ask for a certain number of measurements of your child, like height, weight and head circumference, so having a measuring tape and scale on hand is a good idea. You can also give your little one a toy or two to keep their attention and ensure they don’t go running off or start screaming in the middle of the visit.
Talk to Your Little One About Video Chat Etiquette
Because technology isn’t going to go away during your child’s lifetime, it is never too early to teach your child video chat etiquette. No matter how old your little one is, you should prepare them for their virtual pediatric visit with the following lessons:
Everyone can see you, even when you aren’t looking at the screen. You shouldn’t do anything you don’t want others to see, like picking your nose or using the potty.
Everyone can hear you, even when you aren’t talking to them. When people are talking to you, you should listen quietly and respond. When they aren’t talking to you, you should stay quiet or keep your voice low, so you don’t interrupt them.
You should set your kid’s expectations about the virtual visit by talking about who they are going to see and what they are going to talk about — namely, how they have grown and how they are feeling. During the visit, if your child is unmanageably restless, you should allow them to wander and corral them on video only when the provider requests it.
Don’t Stress About Making Everything Perfect
You wouldn’t be able to guarantee a perfect pediatric visit even if you were taking your little one into the doctor’s office, so you shouldn’t stress about ensuring your online provider has a flawless experience. Pediatric providers know what to expect while treating kids, both in person and over the web. The typical goal of your appointment is to make sure your child is growing up great, so as long as you are open and honest with your provider, you should have a successful virtual visit.