Pediatrician just a click away with new Nemours service – Orlando Sentinel
Nemours children’s health system is launching a pediatric telemedicine service this week that will make pediatricians available around the clock to parents who live in Florida.
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., you can go to NemoursCareConnect.com, or download the app, and for $49 talk with a board-certified Nemours pediatrician.
“Despite the Affordable Care Act, there are still a lot of kids who are not insured and there’s a lot of need,” said Dr. Shayan Vyas, medical director for Nemours telehealth in Florida. “And with convenience being a big factor and technology becoming easy, telemedicine is the wave of the future.”
Nemours developed the service in collaboration with the telehealth company American Well. Officials say that they’re the first pediatric group in the country to offer direct-to-consumer pediatric services.
There are nearly 200 telemedicine networks in the United States, according to the American Telemedicine Association. The Veterans Health Administration, a leader in the field, has delivered more than 300,000 remote consultations with telemedicine and more than half of all U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine, according to ATA.
With growth, the issue has been getting more attention among lawmakers, too.
The number of states that require private insurers to cover telemedicine services as they do in-person visits have doubled in the past three years, but Florida isn’t one of them.
“We’re actively engaged to try to bring parity, but until insurance companies cover [telemedicine] here, we decided to offer services for cash. Because quality and convenience are what families are asking for,” said Vyas.
Twenty-five Florida-based and Florida-licensed Nemours pediatricians are staffing the service around the clock. To comply with laws, the service also requires the patients to be in Florida.
Once logged in, parents can select from the available list of pediatricians. They then can wait in a virtual waiting room or have the platform text them when the pediatrician is ready for video conference.
“Our practice is based on evidence-based medicine, so we’re not going to be dodging the tests that are necessary for the kids,” Vyas said.
Physicians have access to the health system’s electronic medical records and either add more info the existing profiles or create one for new patients.
They also provide a visit summary, and patients “have the ability to contact the physician again,” said Vyas.
There are several existing telemedicine programs geared toward adults, including Orlando-based Mend, and Florida-based MDLIVE. ARCpoint Labs of Orlando Central, a laboratory service in Orlando, has also started offering pay-per-visit telehealth services, which can be accessed through its Web site.
“But we wanted to build a program that parents can trust,” Vyas said. “It’s about keeping kids out of the emergency room and providing care when children need it.”
The system is expanding its services to Delaware next year, where it has another hospital.
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