Going Virtual with Pediatric Care

Medical providers virtually assess and diagnose many pediatric conditions

The Expert: Priya Tulsi, MD

Her Expertise: Priya Tulsi, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician at Novant Health UVA Health System Olde Town Pediatrics in Manassas. For more information about the doctors and services offered at Novant Health UVA Health System, visit NovantHealthUVA.org

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals and doctor’s offices have stepped up to protect their communities. Given the critical need to maintain medical facilities as safe environments, they immediately established new cleaning protocols, stringent sanitation procedures and staff and patient screenings.

Despite these safety measures, there is a level of risk associated with doing anything outside the home. There are patients — such as those with underlying conditions or an ill family member — who may be more comfortable using virtual care instead of visiting their doctor in person. This group often includes pediatric patients.

According to Priya Tulsi, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at Novant Health UVA Health System Olde Town Pediatrics in Manassas, virtual care can be a solution for assessing several common problems in children and adolescents.

“The pandemic has turned our world upside down, and it’s been incredibly valuable to be able to offer virtual care,” said Tulsi. “During a virtual visit, we can assess common ailments, such as fevers lasting 1-2 days or runny noses, or evaluate visible concerns like ringworm, in a convenient, risk-free way. It can be a great option for parents who either want to avoid the risk of being in a public setting or just want the convenience — sometimes both.”

A Local Parent’s Experience

Nina Hirshman is one parent who needed both convenience and safety. The mother of two from Manassas, who works in the medical field herself, has scheduled two virtual visits with Novant Health UVA Health System providers for her 11-year-old son since the pandemic began. To her, the benefits of virtual care made it an obvious solution.

Hirshman’s son’s annual checkup was able to be conducted almost completely virtually. She recorded his height, weight and temperature at home and relayed the information to the doctor. Although he did need to go into the doctor’s office to receive a shot, Hirshman shared that the in-person aspect of the visit was quick since most of his checkup had already been done.

“As a working mother, it’s been a game-changer to be able to have my children seen by a doctor over the computer,” said Hirshman. “I understand that there are still some things, like immunizations, that require an in-person visit. No parent should hesitate to bring their children into the office when it’s necessary. But the ability to do annual checkups or have minor concerns looked at over video has been really helpful during such an unpredictable and stressful time.”

Hirshman shared that she wouldn’t hesitate to schedule more virtual care visits for her son and 13-year-old daughter in the future, even once the pandemic is a thing of the past.

“I think virtual care has changed the way we pursue medical care,” said Hirshman. “It’s less disruptive to the school day and workday. It’s safe and very convenient.”

Virtual Care vs. In-Person

As Hirshman acknowledged, there are still medical events that require in-person care, including newborn visits, comprehensive physical exams, lab work, and immunizations, as well as certain conditions, such as prolonged fevers, chest pain, hearing, and vision screenings.

However, there are many issues medical professionals can assess virtually. 

“Virtual visits have been an important part of allowing us to continue providing quality care to our communities during this time,” said Tulsi. “It is our greatest privilege at Novant Health UVA Health System to be entrusted with children’s healthcare. Though an in-office visit is sometimes needed or may become necessary based on the virtual assessment or progression of the condition, we’re glad to provide a virtual care option to families.”

Common pediatric ailments treatable via virtual visits:

  •  Acne
  • ADHD follow up
  • Behavior concerns
  • Certain medication refills
  • Constipation or diarrhea for less than 2 weeks
  • Cough for less than 7 days
  • COVID-19 related questions
  • Diaper rash
  • Eczema
  • Fever less than 3 days
  • Ingrown toenail/paronychia
  • Lice
  • Local vaccine reactions
  • Mild eye redness and discharge for less than 3 days
  • Pink eye
  • Ringworm
  • Runny nose, congestion
  • Sleep or feeding problems
  • Sneezing, itchy nose, throat and eyes/allergies
  • Thrush
  • Vomiting/diarrhea for less than 3 days in an older child

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