Sometimes having your front office triage your patients over the phone is not enough.
Sure, you can implement questionnaires so your front office can screen for patients exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19. But sometimes you might want to get more information from your patients.
You can use Direct Health for virtual visits to evaluate patients to determine if they need to come in to see you.
Here’s a clinical vignette where a virtual visit prevents patient frustration and allows you to provide quality care more efficiently.
More Than Just a Phone Call
One of your patients is a 24-year-old woman who calls your office complaining of a two day history of sore throat, fever, and occasional cough. Your front office told her she should be evaluated for COVID-19 at a designated testing site, but she insists on speaking with you.
You initiate a video call with Direct Health to answer her questions and get more information about her case. She states she is an elementary school teacher, and prior to the cancellation of school due to COVID-19 concerns, several students were diagnosed with strep throat. She is concerned that she may have strep throat and would like to see you for an appointment.
During your virtual evaluation with Direct Health she describes a sore throat as her main symptom with a fever up to 101°F that responds to acetaminophen. She also describes some lumps and tenderness in her neck that sound consistent with cervical lymphadenopathy.
When you ask her about the cough, she states she replied “yes” to the front office over the phone because the irritation in her throat causes her to frequently clear her throat.
Since this is a video call, you ask her to turn on the rear camera on her phone and use the flashlight to show her oropharynx to you. You visualize enlarged erythematous tonsils with exudate and suspect strep throat.
Diagnostic and Treatment
At this point you have several options. One option is to have your patient come into your office to verify she has strep pharyngitis with a rapid assay. If you want your staff to assist with an appointment, have them set it up with the patient using Direct Health’s secure chat feature.
Or if you are confident that your patient has strep throat based on clinical presentation alone, you can electronically prescribe the appropriate antibiotics for her with Direct Health. The choice is yours based on your comfort level.
Then if you want her to follow up, you can offer her a virtual visit instead of coming into your office, which may be more convenient for both of you.
Several Ways to Bill
If you decide to see this patient in person, and you don’t want to charge her for both the virtual visit and the office visit, you can apply the virtual visit charged in Direct Health to the office visit.
And if you want to go forward with her treatment plan based on the video visit alone, you’ll be paid for your time. First, be sure to document your visit by uploading the consult summary to your EHR.
You can charge your patient directly, and she can file for reimbursement with her insurance. Alternatively, your office staff can submit a claim to her insurance company. If your office staff needs help navigating the reimbursement process, the Direct Health team is here to help.
Keep Your Practice Running Virtually
By adding Direct Health virtual visits into your workflow, you can answer patient questions with the potential to diagnose and treat all within the app. Your office staff can privately add you to their conversations with your patients, alerting you to needed follow-ups, or you can block off time to address these virtual visits. The choice is yours.
About the Author
Stephanie Kreml, MD is a former urgent care doctor and advises digital health and life science companies. Dr. Kreml also served as Chief Medical Officer for Accordion Health where she worked alongside data scientists to develop machine learning-based tools to enable healthcare organizations more effectively manage their patient populations.
She is an Advisory Panel Member for Dell Medical School’s Texas Health Catalyst program, enabling researchers to translate technologies into commercial healthcare applications. Prior to medical school, she held engineering positions with Motorola and Texas Instruments. Dr. Kreml received her Doctor of Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine and her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.
About Direct Health
Direct Health is working to change how healthcare is delivered by recreating the doctor-patient relationship. With the secure messaging app, physicians and patients have the ability to connect via text, call, or video, from anywhere and on their schedule. This enables patients to chat with their doctor, vet, or therapist at any time, and clinicians to extend care and get paid without extra overhead or burdensome schedules. With over 20,000 doctors across the platform, Direct Health is leading the way in the future of healthcare. For more information, visit http://www.directhealth.us.