We recognize the rapid pace of change in all fields with current day technology. The majority of our patients and their responsible care givers regularly use their cellular phones and computers. The demand for use of all forms of communication between patients and providers is growing. Although we believe in-person visits provide better care, there are times when it makes sense to administer care in other ways. Care may be administered through Tele Medicine, email, texting, sharing of photographs and brief videos, telephone calls and the patient portal.
The demand to use available technology is coming from patients, from larger entities including professional medical societies, insurance companies, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) companies, and from hospitals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages the use of Tele Medicine if an in-person evaluation is not possible. Medical insurance companies have recognized the demand for alternate provision of care, and are providing some reimbursement. Electronic Medical Record companies have equipped their systems with modalities such as patient portals, and are promoting their use. Hospitals have made complete conversions to EMRs; they expect medical staff to proficiently use remote access to the EMR, and are regularly holding “Zoom” type meetings between medical professionals.
We are happy to make use of technology when it is appropriate. We aim to be accessible to our patients. Just as direct live patient care in the office and hospital requires our significant training, expertise, time and documentation, so does our care via technology. As with all administered medical care in person and via technology, physicians and nurse practitioners depend greatly on the support of reception, nursing, lab, IT, and billing staff. There is both significant administrative expense and financial compensation due to our providers and staff associated with carrying out this work.
You may have noticed during the Covid-19 pandemic we started charging for some telephone calls. We need to meet the demands to provide care on a regular basis to patients not only in the office, but also remotely through technology. Care must be provided in a professional, thoughtful, organized manner that properly respects patient privacy and is appropriately documented in the medical record. In order to meet these demands there will be some new service charges.
Please review below where new charges apply:
- Tele Medicine visits will be billed according to time or complexity as with standard office visits.
- Phone calls greater than ten minutes or complex calls greater than five minutes during office hours.
- After hours phone calls greater than five minutes.
- Lengthy consultations involving phone, email or the patient portal.
Most calls will not be charged such as:
- Phone calls during phone hour 8:00 to 9:00 am each morning
- Calls to make appointments
- Brief calls under 5 minutes
- Phone calls that lead to an office visit
- Calls in follow up to an issue addressed recently in the office
- Return calls from patients requested by the treating physician
- Calls for medication refills that do not become a consultation about a change in dose or in medication
- Calls that result in the physician sending a patient to the emergency room
We hope to facilitate providing health care for your child with the plans outlined above for use of technology. Please share with us your comments or concerns.