LEXINGTON, Ky. — As patients continue to turn to virtual health care visits across the country as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group is offering tips on how to make the best of a telehealth visit.
“Many patients have responded to our recent announcement that we would offer virtual care visits,” said Viren Bavishi, president of CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group. “By taking part in virtual care visits, patients and our clinicians are at lesser risk for contracting the coronavirus, and we want to make this process as easy as possible for those participating in a telehealth call.”
During a virtual care visit, a patient connects with a provider through secure, live video. All aspects and quality of the visit are similar to an in-person visit, except you do not have to drive to the clinic. The cost of the virtual visit is about the same as an in-person visit. If you are required to pay a co-pay during an in-person visit, then it will also apply for your video visit. You may receive a mailed request for payment.
“When it comes to how long the visit will take, this is typically no different than what a patient would experience during an in-person visit,” said Dr. Sarah O’Leary, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Lexington. “We do recommend that those participating in a virtual visit make sure they are in a location with strong internet connection, and where they can keep their personal health information private while talking on the phone.”
O’Leary said it’s also helpful if the patient has a thermometer, blood pressure measurement device or flashlight available during the visit but none of these are necessary for the visit to occur.
During a virtual visit, a patient must have an internet-enabled device with a camera and a speakerphone, such as a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Cellular data charges may apply if you are not using Wi-Fi for your connection. You should check with your carrier if you have questions about your data plan. These visits are HIPAA-compliant, encrypted to ensure privacy, and are never recorded.
In addition, O’Leary recommends the following tips to make the most of a virtual care visit:
- If you are scheduled for a telehealth visit using Zoom, you should set up the Zoom app on your mobile device or laptop at least one hour prior to the visit.
- Do not give out the Zoom Personal Meeting ID provided for the visit to anyone.
- Plan on having the meeting in a secure and comfortable place where you can easily communicate without distractions.
- Be prepared. Have your demographic information, current medicines and any reports you wish to review with your physician/APP readily available.
- If you are able, check your temperature, weight, pulse rate and blood pressure prior to your visit, in case your physician or APP wants to review these.
Currently, most practices are using Zoom to conduct follow up appointments for chronic conditions and sick visits as appropriate. Medicare patients are also able to conduct their Annual Wellness Visits via Zoom. Ability to see a new patient on Zoom varies by practice.
As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in need of check-ups with immunizations are strongly advised to keep their in-person appointments in the clinic so they do not fall behind on shots. Each office has protocols in place to keep sick and well patients separated as much as possible.
Patients who currently have a provider with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group can call that provider’s office to make an appointment for a virtual visit. New patients can call (859) 313-2255 to connect with a physician or advanced practice clinician. All CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group providers are equipped to conduct a virtual care visit through Zoom, a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tool.