When Virtual Doctor Appointments Work – And When They Don't

Can a chat with your pediatrician via video be as helpful as an in-person visit? A Parents' expert gives you tips on telemedicine.
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You know the emails from your health-care provider about its new telemedicine service: “Go to the doctor from your couch!” Before you move another message to the trash, consider these tips from Parents advisor David Hill, M.D., a pediatrician and author of Dad to Dad, on how to make it work for you.

Assess the symptoms.

Some offices offer these services to follow up on developmental or behavioral issues like ADHD, where a physical exam is rarely revealing. But for concerns like a middle-ear infection, strep throat, or an asthma attack, head to your doc’s office, where an exam or a lab test will be given to make an accurate diagnosis.

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Sleuth out options.

Video visits are generally most successful when they’re with your child’s own doctor. More pediatricians are adding the option for their patients, but pay-as-you-go or commercial services that your insurance or employer covers may connect you with a provider who isn’t a pediatrician. Once you’re connected to a doc, feel free to ask about her qualifications, including where she practices and what she specializes in.

Test it out.

If you’re still unsure, consider this: no traffic, no waiting room, and no coughing kids (except yours). Try a video visit for a low-stakes issue like a sleep or feeding question. And if your child has special needs like cerebral palsy, this convenience could be a lifesaver.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Have a Good Doctor's Visit

Watch out for these symptoms in your baby. Even though they might seem harmless, you should call your doctor right away.

Parents November 2018

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