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How Video Visits Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Steffanie Campbell, M.D., F.A.C.P.
As healthcare providers, my Kelsey-Seybold colleagues and I are united by a common goal, which is to help our community in as many ways as we can. One important way we’re helping our patients and the communities we serve during the COVID-19 pandemic is by providing Video Visits, which are allowing us to continue providing care remotely for the non-coronavirus illnesses patients need treatment for in the safety of their own homes. We’re also using Video Visits and E-visits to screen patients for symptoms of the novel coronavirus. This helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 to healthy people and enables us to help direct anyone who may be infected to care and resources.
Kelsey-Seybold has been delivering Virtual Care since 2016. While it’s not new for us, it might be for you. When we started doing Video Visits, we limited access to it as we tested how this Virtual Care option would perform. As we refined it, we opened it up to more of our patients. Now, with the arrival of the current pandemic, we’ve made Video Visits available to any Kelsey-Seybold patient covered by any of the more than 50 health insurance plans we accept.
Video Visits are one of three Virtual Care options we offer. The other two are E-visits, conducted by email, and telephone visits. Because E-visits and telephone visits involve everyday methods of communication, I’m going to focus on Video Visits because people might feel less comfortable doing them for the first time.
What to Expect with Video Visits
With a Video Visit, you connect via the internet with a Kelsey-Seybold physician, physician assistant, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner from any computer, laptop, mobile phone, or other electronic device, such as a smartpad, that has a camera feature. You can schedule a real-time Video Visit appointment from a list of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics providers, as well specialists in Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat), Gastroenterology, Infectious Disease, OB/GYN, Neurology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Sleep Medicine, Urology, and Certified Diabetes Education. A list of available providers will appear along with available appointment times and dates. You can select from this list or schedule an after-hours on-demand appointment, called VideoVisitNOW, which means instead of picking a specific provider, you wait in a queue for the next available provider.
Get step-by-step instructions on how to schedule Video Visits.
Once your Video Visit appointment begins, you and your provider can see each other via the camera on the device you’re using. You can tell your provider about symptoms you’re experiencing and hold the camera up to a show a rash, cut, bruising, swelling, or other medical concern that would be helpful for your provider to see firsthand.
For instance, during a Video Visit, my patient and I can go through the medications he or she is taking because they’re right there with them. I sometimes ask a patient to give me a camera tour of their home so I can assess whether there are tripping hazards or other safety issues. I can see where a patient sleeps and how their bedroom is set up. For example, a patient with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should sleep with their head raised at a 45-degree angle. Most don’t have them high enough. I’m also able to see pets. One patient with a chronic cough didn’t think to mention her pet and when I saw it on camera it led to a treatment recommendation.
I’m also able to watch a patient walk and bend on camera so I can assess range of motion of their extremities. I’ve had patients do mini puzzles to evaluate cognitive function and check their blood pressure and sugar on camera. I’ve even taught them how to take a pulse. I’ve also been able to watch patients use inhalers and nebulizer machines to see if anything might be hindering accurate delivery and have found a lot of people don’t use their inhalers correctly.
I’ve been able to meet family members, significant others, and friends who provide care and they provided great information and insight.
I’m also able to see where the patient exercises and how they do it. I’ve also had patients show me the inside of their food pantry so I can offer dietary advice.
During a Video Visit, your provider can order tests if needed, prescribe medication, make recommendations for any necessary follow-up care, and add notes about the visit into your medical chart so your Kelsey-Seybold primary care physician, if you have one, is kept in the loop about your care.
What Patients Say About Kelsey-Seybold Video Visits
The patients I talk to love Video Visits, especially now during the pandemic. They’re relieved to be able to connect with us and to see our faces. It offers reassurance.
Patients tell me Video Visits are easy to use, convenient, and efficient. A Video Visit usually lasts 10 to 15 minutes with no driving time, traffic jams, or risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus or other contagious diseases. First-time users can get help by calling the MyKelseyOnline Helpline, available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at 713-442-6565. After 9 p.m., one of our Contact Center representatives will assist.
Because Video Visits, E-visits, and telephone visits don’t entail a trip to any of clinics, patients who are using these virtual appointment options during the pandemic crisis are saving masks, gowns, and other key supplies, which are in high demand for dealing with the pandemic.
Learn more about the Virtual Care services available from Kelsey-Seybold.