What is telehealth?
Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is the remote delivery of healthcare, clinical information and patient/provider education using technology. Telehealth is like Facetime or Skype with your doctor, but with medical-grade HIPAA-compliant tools. Telehealth provides best-practice medical care for patient visits or education at a time and place most convenient for the family.
How does telehealth work?
At Children's Colorado, we use the latest HIPAA-compliant, encrypted technology. It’s easy to use.
To get started, our team will issue you a Vidyo account that you’ll download to one of your devices (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone). We’ll provide hands-on training, and then you’ll be ready to get started.
During your telehealth visit, the provider will be able to see and hear you. You will see the provider on most of the video screen. In one corner of the screen, you will also see the picture of yourself that the provider is seeing. If you prefer, we can close that box so that you only see the provider.
You can move around during the visit. However, if you are moving around a lot, it can cause some blurring or delay in the picture. Also, the provider can only hear and see you when you are in range of the camera and microphone.
How will my privacy be protected?
Our providers will tell you if anyone is with them that you can’t see. Our providers will not work out of “unsecure” areas, like coffee shops, where non-medical people could overhear your visit. If you do not want someone to be present at your location or the provider’s, please let us know. We ask that you tell our providers if anyone is present with you off-screen.
We do not record any telehealth visits except in unusual circumstances such as research studies. We will get your permission before any recording occurs. We also expect that you do not make a recording of the visit on your end without your medical provider’s permission.
Who can use telehealth?
Anyone who is capable of using technology like Skype or Facebook is capable of using telemedicine. More than half of U.S. hospitals now use some sort of telehealth, and that rate is increasing every day.
What are the benefits of telehealth versus traditional "in-person" doctor's appointments?
The primary benefits of telehealth are that it helps improve access to healthcare, and it drives down the cost of care.
Our telehealth capabilities give patients and their families increased access to best-practice care, with the convenience of being at home or in their community provider's office rather than driving to one of our locations. Also, by using telehealth, you can include your local provider in healthcare discussions through video conferencing.
What are the limitations of telehealth?
We don’t know all the limitations of telehealth yet because the technology is changing quickly. However, some providers believe that the technology may be less useful in certain medical situations compared to traditional in-person visits (for example, children who can’t speak and children who need certain types of exams).
We only offer telehealth services that we believe are appropriate for the technology. We do trial runs before offering new services to make sure that we are offering high-quality care.
What type of patients can benefit from telehealth?
A variety of patients and their families are benefiting from telehealth, including:
- Patients who live in a remote area and need our expertise in their local Emergency Department during an urgent/emergency situation
- Patients who need to maintain regular contact with our specialists but can't afford to travel to one of our locations as frequently as needed
- Patients who are discharged from Children's Colorado after a complicated surgery and want to include parents and a community-based provider in planning next steps for treatment
What conditions are commonly treated with telehealth?
Most medical conditions can be treated via telehealth, with the exception of complex procedures. You can consult with your provider to find out if telehealth is right for you and your family.
Are there any legal, privacy or regulatory concerns about telehealth?
At Children’s Colorado, our telehealth services comply with licensure, malpractice and liability regulations, within scope of practice. They also meet security and HIPAA requirements.
How can I get started with telehealth?
To get started, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will walk you through the process, including training and installing your equipment and supporting your clinical and/or educational efforts.
Which telehealth services are paid for by private insurance and/or Medicaid?
Many health plans cover this useful service, and more continue to cover telehealth each year. Benefit plans vary widely so we recommend checking with your insurance before requesting a visit. You should always ask your insurance provider if a telemedicine appointment is covered by your plan.
To do that, simply call your plan’s member services department and ask about telehealth. You can find the phone number on the back of your child’s insurance card.
Recommended questions to ask:
- Is the specific telehealth service that I want (for example, a pulmonology telehealth visit to manage my child’s asthma, or a telehealth visit with a dietitian to manage my child’s celiac disease) covered by my benefit plan?
- Are there any restrictions to my telehealth coverage?
- Is there a limit on the number of telehealth visits I can have?
- What is my copay for a telehealth visit? Is it the same as my copay for in-person visits?
- Is there any difference in my coverage if the telehealth visit happens while my child is at home, rather than at a clinic such as our primary care provider’s office?
If the telehealth service you want is not covered, you may be able to appeal. Ask the insurance agent to connect you with a supervisor or someone from their appeals department.
If your child’s health plan does not cover telehealth services, you can also choose to pay the cost on your own. This option may make sense if you have a high-deductible plan, if it would cost you more money to travel to one of our clinics, or if you would have to miss a lot of work for in-person visits.