How to initiate telehealth visits


Telehealth has been on the periphery for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed it to the forefront, so finding the best system is key.

Pediatricians need to rapidly implement telehealth (TH) care of ill patients, directing them to emergency departments or to our offices for further evaluation and treatment. On April 15, 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that pediatricians conduct well visits via TH if in-office well visits were not otherwise feasible based on local circumstances.

There are dozens of TH platforms from which to choose and it is advisable to trial several before settling on your platform of choice. One of my favorite TH platforms is Pro (Rochester, New York). It costs $35 per provider per month for a high-resolution video TH service that is accessible via a web-based portal. With Pro, providers can quickly create an ad hoc video visit for a patient by sending a link to either a parent’s or patient’s email address or phone number. Clicking on the link directs the parent or patient into a waiting queue and the provider clicks on the name in the queue to start the video call.

Unlike competitors, Pro does not have an integrated scheduler, but one can simply utilize the scheduler integrated into your electronic health record (EHR) and notify parents of patients that they will be called at a specific time. If you’d like to use a HIPAA-compliant scheduler to complement, consider Cogsworth (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), which costs as little as $99 per year. Android is already integrated.

Another TH tool that I recommend is the HIPAA-compliant Doximity Dialer Video application (Doximity; San Francisco, California) that is integrated into the Doximity application on iOS and Android phones. Although not promoted as a TH platform, the Doximity Dialer Video application provides users with a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) and encrypts data, so essentially it is a bare-bones TH application that allows physicians to initiate TH visits with patients with only a few clicks. Doximity Dialer Video visits are free, high quality, and very easy to use from the patient’s and provider’s perspective. Providers use the app to send a message containing a URL link to a parent’s or patient’s phone number. (You can mask the call, so the recipient “sees” the office phone number rather than your own). Patients simply click on the link and the video visit begins.

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