As a patient with a chronic medical condition, you may expect you’ll be waiting for a regularly scheduled appointment to see your primary care physician or specialist now that we’re in the midst of a pandemic. How can you safely keep up with your own health during this stressful time?
NCH Medical Group physicians and advance practice providers are eager to be of assistance in the safest way possible. To minimize unnecessary exposure and follow the guidelines of social distancing, most existing appointments with NCH Medical Group providers can be converted to virtual visits.
What is a virtual visit? Essentially, it’s the same as a typical office visit except that it happens over the telephone. No special equipment required.
We asked Heidi Chatham, M.D., Medical Director of Medical Informatics and a primary care physician in our Buffalo Grove Medical Group office, to outline which conditions may be appropriate for a virtual visit. While she advises calling the office first to speak with a member of the clinical staff who will help determine whether a virtual visit is right for you, here are the conditions she recommends:
- Follow-up on stable or controlled medical conditions like hypertension or diabetes
- Follow-up on any new medications
- Review of symptoms related to common illnesses and various health conditions to determine next steps
- Review of symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 to help determine next steps
Dr. Chatham also clarified which conditions are not appropriate for a virtual visit, including:
- Possibly life-threatening symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, acute confusion or stroke (These conditions require calling 911 any time, day or night)
- A hospital follow-up visit
- Unstable medical problems that require close monitoring like uncontrolled hypertension
The virtual visit will be held with your regular NCH Medical Group provider, except in circumstances when he or she is not available. In those cases, you will be offered an appointment with another physician in the same practice.
Most insurance companies are covering these types of appointments to discourage office visits and possible exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I recommend patients call their insurance provider to find out their coverage,” says Dr. Chatham.
“We believe these measures will help as we aspire to keep our patients and staff as healthy and safe as possible. Once things get back to normal, we plan to continue these services as a convenience, but we all look forward to the day we get back to seeing our patients in the office more regularly.”
Dr. Chatham emphasizes some patients may still need to be seen in the office for various reasons. “We will continue to see those patients in person and do so in a way that protects their health and safety,” she adds.
In the meantime, following the recommendations for social distancing and the Stay at Home order are the most effective ways to stay healthy and limit the spread of the Coronavirus in our community.
NCH is confident we are prepared to continue supporting the health and well-being of our community. We are getting through this together!
Call your NCH Medical Group provider to schedule a virtual visit appointment today. Find location and physician information at nch.org/medicalgroup