TCHC is doing Telehealth video visits

March 20, 2020

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Thomas Chittenden Health Center is encouraging telehealth services as a way for patients to receive the care and advice they need from the comfort and safety of their own home. While telehealth may not be appropriate for all medical conditions, we have found that many acute medical issues and chronic conditions, as well as preventive care, can be addressed with this new tool. We are asking that even healthy patients who are not in a high-risk group still avoid being seen physically in the office if possible in order to prevent community spread. Our goal is to keep all of our patients as healthy as possible, which means every patient doing as much as possible over the telephone or by video visit.

See answers to our most frequently asked questions below!

What do I need to have a telehealth visit? 

To have a telehealth visit, you must have either a computer that has audio/video capability or a smartphone. You must also have reliable high-speed internet access. Due to the current health crisis, if you do not have a computer, smartphone or high-speed internet access, please let your scheduler or nurse know and we can do your telehealth visit by regular phone. 

How do I make a telehealth appointment?

Making a telehealth appointment is easy – just call our office! Our schedulers and nursing staff will work together to make sure your visit is appropriate for a telehealth visit. If it is, you’ll be scheduled and receive an e-mail and/or text with the date and time of the appointment, as well as the link you will use to connect for the appointment.

What should I do to get ready for my telehealth appointment?

First, if you have not done so already, please go to the Patient Information –> Forms page and complete the online Telehealth Informed Consent Form. Once you receive the appointment link, click on it to verify that your device meets the minimum requirements. Please note that on a computer, our system does not work with Internet Explorer as a browser – you will need to have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox in order to connect. If you are unable to connect at this time, please call the office and our schedulers can help trouble-shoot in advance of your visit.

When the time approaches for your appointment, make sure that you are comfortable and in a place where you will be able to discuss your medical conditions. Ensure that nobody else on your network is streaming audio or video content, as this can disrupt your connection. If you can, have your medication with you in case there is a question about your medications. Likewise, if you have been tracking your blood pressure or glucose, please have your log sheets readily available.

At the time of your appointment, click on the appointment link that you were sent. If the provider is not yet in the “room”, just sit tight. They will get there as soon as they finish with their previous patient. If they are running particularly late, they may have the nurse call you to update you with an approximate time they will be on.

What if I can’t connect, or if the video connection drops in the middle of my visit?

The first step is to try to reconnect. Log completely out of your browser, and then click the link again to log back in. If you and your provider are unable to reconnect, then they will call you on the phone and let you know how they will proceed. They may choose to just finish the rest of the visit by phone if the video is unavailable.

What if I don’t have high-speed internet access at my house, or a device that has audio/video capability?

If you do not have access to the service or equipment needed for a telehealth visit, your provider may be able to do a modified telehealth visit just talking with you over the phone. The goal is to provide you the best care we can in the safest way possible.

How is the telehealth visit billed?

Telehealth visits are billed just like regular office visits, but with a special code attached that identifies it as telehealth. This means that all insurance copays and deductibles apply, just as if you were in the office. You may call our billing office after your visit to pay by credit card, or we will send you a billing statement by the end of the month.

What if I need labwork drawn or a physical exam done?

If your provider determines that you need to have lab work drawn, or if they feel that you need to be seen in person to better diagnose your problem, they will let you know that during the visit. At the end of the visit, you’ll be instructed to schedule a follow up visit, either with the provider or with the lab.

What if I don’t WANT a telehealth visit?

Patients may decide that they do not want to receive their medical care via a telehealth visit. However, during this current crisis, we cannot see you physically in the office if you were recently or are currently sick with cough/cold, fever or other infectious symptoms, or if you have a history of potential exposure. Even if you are not in a higher-risk group for COVID-19 complications and you are feeling fine, it is still unwise for you to come to our office. COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that can be spread unwittingly by people who aren’t even aware they have it. An in-person visit here puts everybody at increased risk. If your provider does not feel they can adequately diagnose or treat you at home, then they will work with you to find the safest way for you to be further evaluated.

Due to the current health crisis, if you do not have a computer/smartphone or high-speed internet service, please let your scheduler or nurse know, and we can do your telehealth visit by regular phone. 

We understand that these times are frightening for many people. However, your Health Care Team at Thomas Chittenden Health Center is committed to continuing to provide you with the best possible care in the safest way possible.