NYU Langone ramps up virtual urgent care services for kids
New York City’s NYU Langone Health is increasing the availability of virtual urgent care services for children.
The expanded use of technology is aimed at children age 12 and older, enabling them and their parents to video chat with a physician without leaving home.
“We’ve been seeing adult patients for a little over a year now, and we’ve just started seeing pediatric patients,” says Paul Testa, MD, NYU Langone’s chief medical information officer. “There’s no vendor. We use our own doctors, our own health record and our own equipment.”
The real-time video service—available to patients in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania—connects to more than 30 NYU Langone board-certified emergency medicine physicians who treat minor conditions such as cough, sore throat, colds, other flu-like symptoms, rash, urinary tract infections, pink eye and earaches.
“All of those doctors have licenses in those states, as is required to practice telemedicine in different states,” adds Testa. “The virtual urgent care model is a decentralized one. It’s all NYU Langone doctors who regularly staff the emergency departments across the health system, but they often will take their virtual care shifts from private offices at home or secure private doctors’ offices. We do have a dedicated office for them to come to, if they want, on our main campus. Many of them do it from a home office.”
According to Testa, those ED physicians participating in virtual urgent care are able to leverage NYU Langone’s integrated Epic electronic health record system to get access to patient data. In addition, doctors can prescribe medications electronically, order tests and imaging and help arrange a follow-up visit with a specialist, he says.
“To connect with a doc, the most common way is via a smartphone or a tablet—you can also use a desktop and a regular web browser,” notes Testa. “If patients have technical difficulties, we have a phone number they can call, and they reach our technical support team.”
Virtual urgent care services are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Appointments can be made through the NYU Langone health app—downloaded through the App Store and Google Play—as well as the healthcare organization’s website.
“The primary reason that our patients love virtual urgent care is that it’s convenient and saves them a trip to a brick-and-mortar facility,” adds Testa. “We know how hard it is to get across Midtown or go from Brooklyn or Nassau County into Manhattan.”
The cost for virtual urgent care services is a flat-rate payment of $126, with health insurance co-payment options for accepted plans.
“Virtual urgent care is covered for patients 12 years and older who are insured by UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna patients, throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania,” according to NYU Langone. “Unlike similar telehealth services, patients can be covered for just the cost of a co-pay.”
Overall, almost 200 doctors at NYU Langone for specialties such as psychiatry, orthopedics, ophthalmology, neurology, bariatrics, transplant, cardiology, hematology, endocrinology and gastroenterology are using telemedicine. In addition, several specialties are starting to offer virtual visits for post-operative follow-ups, including general surgery, transplant surgery, orthopedic surgery and thoracic surgery.
“Telemedicine is advancing the way we offer healthcare, and NYU Langone Health is at the forefront of these innovative healthcare technologies,” says Nader Mehrabi, chief information officer at NYU Langone Health. “We’re connecting with our patients in ways that are not only more convenient for them, but also offer the same quality care they expect of us.”