Virtual (Telemedicine) Visits
- Posted on: Mar 22 2020
Should I cancel my upcoming appointment?
Not necessarily. You should call us and change it to a virtual visit or telemedicine visit, if at all possible. We are encouraging our patients to stay safe at home and take advantage of technology to continue their medical care. While in individual cases, our physicians might feel that some patients might be better served in person here in the office, for the foreseeable future the majority of visits can be done virtually until the coronavirus epidemic is behind us. This is for your safety as well as ours (and the whole community’s).
How can I arrange a virtual visit?
During these uncertain times our office now has the ability to provide a virtual visit in lieu of cancelling your in-office doctor’s appointment or not being able to see your doctor due to the stay-at-home restrictions. At this time we are offering this option to all our patients who have an Apple device with a camera and speakers (iPhone, iPad, iMac or MacBook) using Face Time. We are working on other options for those without an Apple device, such as Zoom conferencing and further details will be available if / as the need arrives.
This option is currently available only for our current patients (seen within the last 3 years) to make sure we meet the healthcare needs of our current patients in this trying time. We are working on options to expand telehealth services to new patients so if your are a prospective patient, we ask for your patience and feel free to check with us at any time.
Our office will schedule your visit for a set date and time that works for you and the doctor. Prior to your virtual visit with Dr. Urman or Dr. Caren, one of our staff members will call you (either via Face Time or on the phone) to take all pertinent visit information, such as medications, blood pressure/pulse reading, temperature and any complaints or reason for the virtual visit that need to be documented. This is similar to when you come to our office and one of our medical assistants (Nancy, Erika or Kahlia) bring you back to an exam room.
So it is important to make sure you have an up-to-date and accurate list of all your medications and dosages prior to the virtual visit just like when you come to our office. If you have a blood pressure monitor at home, please record it with your pulse prior to your visit so that we can document that information. If you feel like you might have an infection, please take your temperature as well and provide that for us as well.
If you have Kardia or an Apple watch you may use these for an EKG reading prior to seeing the doctor and email it to email@example.com prior to your appointment time (Premier and Concierge patients can email directly to the doctor if they prefer).
Once all the intake information is entered by our staff and we have verified there are no technological glitches with your device or the connection, the doctor will either join the same Face Time session or will Face Time you back to continue your virtual visit.
Are these virtual visits covered by insurance?
Given the emergency declarations from the White House and Congress, these virtual telemedicine visits are now covered by Medicare (at least temporarily until the coronavirus state of emergency is over) and will be billed by our office on your behalf similar to regular visits in our office.
For patients with private insurance, similar to when services are rendered in-person here in the office, payment will be due by credit card at the time of the visit. Our staff will be happy to review charges with you but they will be a bit less than comparable in-office visits based on time involved (including documentation by the doctor that occurs prior to or after your “face time” with them) and complexity of the medical issues and visit. We can bill your insurance as a courtesy however, we do not know how much of (or if) the telemedicine visit cost will be covered. Most private insurance companies are starting to cover these services, especially since the coronavirus pandemic but you can check with your insurance carrier for more information. As we are able, we will try to help you find this out but encourage you to stay connected with your cardiologist, leveraging technologies available.
We hope this workaround will help you stay safe and healthy and relieve any worries you may have. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Also, please bear with us if there are any hiccups, please understand this is all new for all of us and there will be a learning curve for this process.