What you need to know about your virtual visit

Mom and toddler look into a computer for a virtual visit
You can have a visit with your Boston Children's provider from the comfort of your home. (Photos: Michael Goderre/Boston Children's)

A virtual visit, also referred to as “telehealth,” “telemedicine,” or a “video visit,” is a live, secure video conversation with your health care provider. Think of it as similar to a Skype or FaceTime chat you might have with a family member, but with the capability for you to continue many aspects of your care with your health care provider from a distance .

Our team has recently ramped up virtual visit service in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, so our providers are now able to collectively better support the management of hundreds of patients a day virtually, improving safety for both our patients and staff. This service will allow you to continue to practice social/physical distancing while receiving many of the benefits of Boston Children’s Hospital health care from the comfort of your home.

Are you scheduled and getting ready for an upcoming virtual visit with a Boston Children’s provider, but aren’t sure what to expect? For those who are new to virtual visits, our team has answered some of the most common questions from parents, patients, and caregivers.

What’s a virtual visit like?

A virtual visit is similar to a face-to-face office visit with your provider, but via secure video from the comfort of your home or other convenient location. As with any Boston Children’s visit, your provider will be there to review your child’s symptoms, answer questions, review concerns, and discuss next steps.

What technology do I need for a virtual visit?

You can have a virtual visit on any smartphone or tablet, including an iPhone, Android, or iPad. You can also use a laptop or any computer that has internet, a camera, and a speaker/microphone. It is helpful to have your virtual visit software downloaded on two devices in case you need a backup for your visit.

Mother and toddler using a computer to talk withe a doctor for a virtual visit.
Choose a quiet space for your visit and set the camera so it’s at eye level for a full view of your face.

How do I prepare for the visit?

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your visit to make sure you get the most out of the time with your provider.

First, prepare a space for the visit.

  • Choose a quiet space that is free from distractions, ideally a room with carpet to minimize echo.
  • Set your camera so it’s at eye level for a full view of your face. If you’re using a phone or tablet, lean it against something so you don’t have to hold it.
  • Adjust your lighting and close any blinds. Try to make sure there is no light or window directly behind the camera to avoid glare.
  • During your visit, your provider may need to examine your child. Be prepared to adjust your camera and be prepared to follow your provider’s instructions.

You’ll also want to make sure you have any materials you need ready before your visit.

  • Make a list of any questions you have for your provider.
  • Gather all of your child’s medications so you have them available.

And to ensure the technical side of the visit goes smoothly, make sure you’re ready to use the application.

  • Download the virtual visit application in advance and carefully read through all instructions.
  • Please be on time for your visit. We recommend you log on 15 minutes before your visit, and wait in the virtual waiting room for your provider.

How do I prepare my child for the visit?

For young children (infant, toddler, or younger preschooler) it may be helpful to:

  • Have another parent, older child, or caregiver nearby so they can help hold the camera. This may be especially helpful if you need to hold your child in a certain way so their provider can get the best view during the exam.
  • Keep toys, books, and perhaps a bottle or sippy cup handy to help soothe and engage your child throughout the visit. .

For older school-age children, it may be helpful to sit next next to them during the visit so the provider can talk to you both during the visit.

If your child is a teenager, your provider may ask them to do part of the call on their own, for their privacy — just as they would for an in-person visit.

What happens after the visit?

As with a face-to-face visit, your child’s appointment will be documented in your child’s electronic medical record. If you are a current Boston Children’s patient and would like to view parts of your records or schedule appointments, sign up for a MyChildren’s portal account today.

Once you have established a portal account, you can view content from your child’s electronic health record and be able to communicate with your child’s provider.

Can I schedule a virtual visit for an upcoming appointment? 

Boston Children’s offers virtual visits in a growing number of clinics, and have been adding even more to allow for care to be provided remotely for patients at home during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. If you’re interested in having a virtual visit, contact your provider to see if it’s right for your care. If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your primary care provider directly.

Learn more about virtual visits.

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