Telehealth visits & the Coronvirus (COVID-19)

 

Greetings!  This is important so please read carefully.

 

Updated 3/29/2020

 

We at Miles Family Medicine instituted our own Coronavirus Task Force in Feburary 2020 in preparation for the pandemic. We have implemented new strategies to keep everyone safe. We continue to remain consistently up to date on the prevention practices as well as the ever changing screening guidelines, local resources and trends.

 

Our local legislators and Governor’s office have been taking the steps necessary to ensure cooperation from health insurance companies with Telehealth, which uses video and audio to complete an office visit without you being in the office. We have started some limited Telehealth visits already. We moved forward with Telehealth visits to help our patients limit their exposure to the public and limit further cases of coronavirus/COVID-19. This also helps protect our staff so that we can remain available to our patients.

 

Included here are some guidelines on how to start a Telehealth visit, how to prepare for the visit and the types of visits possible. Your visit will be made with a secure and private online platform and documented in your chart just as we normally do. We can still transmit needed prescriptions electronically to your pharmacy.

 

Due to many factors, we will not be able to send in any antibiotic prescriptions unless you are evaluated first, whether it is in person or via a Telehealth visit.

 

Telehealth visits require additional time and resources on our end to complete and we will keep each visit to no more than about 10 minutes. Since the actual interaction is very efficient, most visits can be completed in 5-7 minutes of “face to face” time. All Telehealth visits will be conducted during normal business hours just like our usual visits. For after-hours problems we will not be able to evaluate or treat your problems.

 

Starting a visit you will need to:

-  have a smart phone with video and audio and internet capabilities (there is a way you can use a computer if you have proper microphone and webcam enabled but a smart phone is preferred)

-  call our office during usual business hours and set up an appointment and make sure we have the correct cell phone number, name spelling, and date of birth (and email if using a computer)

-  be available at the time of your appointment

-  follow the simple directions of the program including accepting the text & call, and allow your phone to use audio & video

-  you will need to email us back a simple consent acceptance, saying you agree to the terms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPbyvFTgdU this video helps with making sure you give camera and microphone permissions so that we can chat.

 

Preparing for a visit you should:

-  be in a quiet place with bright lighting where we can see and hear you (and you the same for us.) You should have no distractions like TV, pets, small children, etc. Facing a bright window (out of direct sunlight) is usually a very good option.

-  have flashlight or other light source to help see certain things better like rashes and throats

-  check your temperature if you are sick

-  check your blood pressure if your visit relates to blood pressure. When using a home monitor make sure to be sitting and resting for at least 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure using an appropriately sized cuff. Most “adult” size cuffs are too small for most adults unless you are quite thin.

-  check your glucose level if your visit relates to diabetes

 

Some examples of things we can usually (but not necessarily always) treat:

Common minor illness, injuries and other problems, including things like colds and sinus infections, simple urinary tract infections
(bladder infections,) Strep throat, Rashes, Acne, Yeast infections, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Hypertension, Simple sprains and strains, Acid reflux, Constipation, Stomach bugs (gastroenteritis,) and many other chronic medical conditions.

 

Things we definitely cannot treat:

Anything potentially life threatening with symptoms like chest pain, abdominal pain, neurologic changes like stroke and altered mental status, major injuries, pain syndromes, and any other condition which is potentially life threatening.

We are not able to do lab tests, EKGs, X-rays or other imaging.

 

How much does the Telehealth visit cost?

If you have active health insurance and do NOT have a copay for office visits, a deposit of $40 will be collected and applied to the office visit.  If you have active health insurance and DO have a copay for office visits, then payment equal to your copay will be collected during the call to schedule your appointment.

We will submit the visit to your health insurance company for reimbursement. Any unpaid amount left as “Patient Responsibility” will then be paid by you to Miles Family Medicine.

If you do not have health or insurance or choose not to have your visit filed with insurance the cost is a discounted flat fee of $60 for the visit.

 

Will you continue to do Telehealth visits after the crisis?

Perhaps. Our focus now is to assist in decreasing pandemic illness within the community. If health insurance companies reimburse reasonably, it could be something we continue for certain visit types. We could potentially get to a point where patients come in for their annual physical/wellness visit, and at the option of the patient, if everything is stable be able to treat many things via Telehealth. Even though your time in the office here is typically very brief compared to many other offices this setup would save patients a lot of time away from work and hassle of coming to the office.

 

I am coming in for an appointment at your office.  Will I get sick there?

While we can’t guarantee you won’t get sick during your commute here, walking through the parking area, or being inside the office for your appointment, we have taken steps to limit your exposure to germs. 

 

We are limiting sick patients within the office and a have a robust program to sanitize and disinfect the office, including doors and door handles, clipboards, pens, furniture, exam tables, restrooms, counters, and others, including our employees. We continue the effort throughout the day to minimize exposure to any germs.

 

Who should not come to the office for a visit?

-  For suspected coronavirus syndrome patients, we are generally having them stay home to self quarantine and not come to the office. Very sick patients should go to the hospital.

-  We are not allowing patients to bring guests. The exception is children patients will need to bring one parent or other guardian.

 

How can I avoid infections like coronavirus?

- Keep items that could be touched by others clean and sanitized.

- Disinfectant wipes and sprays can be difficult to find but a weakened household bleach solution is great to wipe across many hard surfaces. A mixture of 2 oz bleach in 1 gallon of water is plenty strong enough for most things. Just be careful with bleaching colors of certain items and corrosion of some metals, and don’t inhale fumes.

- Make sure to stay clean and wash your own hands frequently with simple soap and water. Use alcohol hand sanitizers if not in a position to wash. Don’t forget to wash potentially contaminated clothes, too.

- Don’t touch your face! The eyes, nose and mouth are portals of entry for germs.

- Use good judgment and limit unnecessary social interactions during times of “sick seasons” like this current pandemic.

 

What if I think I have the Coronavirus/Covid-19?

Absolutely do NOT come to the office.  We have no way of testing you or treating it, so coming to the office only puts all the people you come in contact with at risk of this very contagious virus. 

If you really believe you have this infection you need to stay home and self-quarantine. There are no current accepted medicines for treatment to clear the virus. Rest and hydration are important. Studies suggest that naproxen (Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are safer than ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for this virus. If you believe your symptoms warrant further treatment (for example, significant shortness of breath or worsening symptoms) you need to go the hospital emergency room for admission and supportive treatment.

The Summit Urgent Care in Newnan currently has an evaluation program in place as of March 19, 2020. They have the space and other resources and have set up an outdoor evaluation and treatment area for proper isolation and protective equipment to keep their patients and their staff safe. However, at this time they report they do not have formal testing for coronavirus. As you probably have heard, testing around the country is very limited. Some of our sick patients who have been hospitalized were not even tested during their hospital stay.

 

Keep in mind there are other illness that can mimic this one, including pneumonia and bacterial blood infections and others. These
illnesses also need hospital treatment so you must use your best judgment on when to go to the hospital. If you ask us, we are likely going to be very conservative and have you go to the hospital for evaluation.

 

Be safe and stay healthy!

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