WASHINGTON (ABC7) — The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone's daily lives and routines including making a visit to the doctor.
ABC7 spoke with Dr. Rachel Selekman about using telehealth services during COVID-19. Selekman is the associate director of ambulatory telemedicine at Children's Hospital.
Selekman is a urologist by training, but she’s been the physician lead on setting up all of our outpatient services to use telehealth—more than 1,000 providers have started doing telehealth in the last month, including physical therapy, nutrition, etc. (not just physicians).
We’re hearing a lot about how hospitals are using telehealth during COVID-19. Tell us what Children’s National is doing that’s different/unusual?
Selekman's answer: Telemedicine was something that we were doing at Children's prior to COVID-19. In response to COVID-19, we rapidly accelerated our program and are now seeing more than 500 patients via telemedicine each day. We're able to provide a wide range of services to care for our children. For example, we are able to provide video interpreter services for more than 50 languages. Additionally, at Children's, not only do we care for healthy children, but we also have very specialized providers that care for complex diseases. We are continuing to see both new and established patients via telemedicine. In fact, we have complex patients that see many providers at one visit in our multidisciplinary clinics. And, we and still able to provide that clinic experience via telemedicine - right now.
How do these multi-disciplinary appointments work and what’s the benefit to handling this way? [would love to emphasize it keeps chronically ill kids on a healthier trajectory and keeps them out of the ED and the inpatient setting during the public health emergency)
Selekman's answer: In these clinics, patients are scheduled to see multiple specialists in one session. This collaborative approach means children receive the best care in one appointment as children can see all their specialists together. For example, in one of our multidisciplinary clinics - the aerodigestive clinic - patients may see a pulmonologist, an ENT specialist, a gastroenterologist, and a speech and language pathologist all within a 2 hour period of time. This truly provides the best care for our families. Additionally, it helps keep chronically ill children healthy - and out of our emergency room and hospital during this public health emergency.
Can every appointment be done via telehealth? Even if the child is a new patient?
Selekman's answer: New patients can absolutely be seen via telemedicine. Not all appointments are suitable for this as some things certainly require an in person exam. Our team of schedulers have guidance from our providers so we can assist families in scheduling whatever is most appropriate for their child.
What does this mean for families who need to make an appointment with a specialist at Children’s National? (access to more than 1000 providers is now avail via telehealth, so it’s possible if a family is referred they will have the option to be seen sooner via telehealth if it applies. When you call for an appointment, our schedulers will let you know if you can do it, but we want people to know that many can!)
Selekman's answer: It is so important that families can continue to receive the care they need. We have more than 1000 providers at Children's seeing patients via telemedicine. Telemedicine appointments have a much shorter wait time than an in person visits. So, if you need an appointment, please call and our team of schedulers will help schedule your child as appropriate!
If viewers are looking to make an appointment at Children’s (telehealth or otherwise) for any specialty we offer, the children’s website: www.childrensnational.org or calling 1-888-884-BEAR are the best ways.