10:09 AM

Cook Children's Pediatricians On Pace To See 10,000 Patients Through Virtual Visits in April

With the arrival of COVID-19 it seems like almost everything has changed, including the way Cook Children’s pediatricians see patients.

Cook Children’s began providing virtual urgent care in summer of 2019 and in March of 2020, services expanded to primary care pediatricians seeing patients virtually as well.

Kari Lipscomb, director of Virtual Health at Cook Children’s, said a lot had to happen quickly to make sure patient families could keep their appointments.

“We needed to increase our ability to see urgent care patients, turn on services for our 127 primary care physicians and 33 specialty departments…all in the span of about six days,” Lipscomb said.

In a time where patients were instructed to stay home as much as possible, it was important to the physicians at Cook Children’s to continue to provide care for their own patients whenever possible.

To provide some idea of how fast things are changing, Cook Children’s completed 316 visits via telemedicine in February, 2020, but by March that number increased to 2,794. Cook Children’s doctors and nurses are on track to complete approximately 10,000 in April.

Within days, primary care physicians were seeing their patients via video during office hours while the Virtual Urgent Care providers continued to see patients throughout the day and evening. Because Cook Children’s is an integrated network, all of their physicians, including primary and urgent care can see the patient’s entire medical record.

Visits with the children’s primary care doctor are primarily being covered by insurance, often with no co-pay necessary. Virtual urgent care visits are a flat $50 fee.

In addition to general pediatric care, specialty clinics and specialty education departments were able to quickly integrate video visits into their offerings for patients. This enabled the physicians to minimize disruption to care for children with chronic conditions and new, complex medical needs.

Kari Lipscomb went on to say, “Of course, it wasn’t easy to get everything up and going, but it was so important, and everyone rallied to make it happen. Physicians, their staff, administration and IT support were all necessary to make it happen. Changing something so quickly, doesn’t happen without a lot of help.”

In addition to new services, Cook Children’s has significantly increased their other remote offerings to patients including direct messaging and telephone triage-all in an effort to provide great care while keeping their patients safe.

The big question now, what happens when COVID-19 is gone? Do things go back to normal?

“Many physicians and patients have really come to enjoy their interactions via video and the convenience for the family is really important,” Dr. Justin Smith, medical director of Virtual Health and Innovation states. “While not everything is able to be done via video, I expect that many of our physicians will continue to offer video visits for certain conditions and situations.”

In addition to telemedicine visits, Cook Children’s pediatricians are actively working to help keep patients safe by direct messaging with patient families and providing phone visits when video is not an option. Messages can include a picture or video and can be sent through the MyChart “Messages” tab.

For more on this, view the following:

Virtual Care

Connect to a Cook Children's doctor without leaving the comfort of your home. Cook Children's patients with a MyChart account now can video chat with one of our medical experts for non-urgent medical conditions without visiting the doctor's office. You can schedule and conduct your child's virtual care visit from a mobile phone, tablet or computer, all from the comfort of your home, or even out of town. We recommend using your mobile device and downloading the Cook Children's MyChart app.