While COVID-19 disrupted life as we know it, it has had unique implications for children and their families. Specifically, it has raised new concerns around what is and isn’t safe when it comes to childcare and schooling during a pandemic.
When families have questions about their child’s wellbeing, pediatricians are often their first stop. These 5 tips can help you stay ahead of concerns and build your reputation as a trusted resource for child health in your community.
1. Promote virtual capabilities
When parents or guardians are balancing work and remote learning/childcare at home, it’s important to show how a pediatric appointment can fit into an already busy and disrupted schedule. Make it clear what appointments can be easily handled via telehealth and whether the visit will differ in cost from an in-person appointment.
While an in-person appointment is still needed for certain conditions or circumstances, it’s helpful to communicate if other children are welcome to tag along to the appointment. And while virtual visits have been widely available during the pandemic, many families are still not familiar with how they work, so it’s important to make it clear that virtual appointments are considered genuine provider appointments. Any information you can offer around insurance coverage can help too.
2. Make forms and test results easy to exchange
COVID-19 has introduced a lot of new paperwork and forms that must be submitted before a child can attend school or childcare, and many parents feel like they can’t keep up with the ever-changing requirements and needed signatures.
PCC’s patient portal makes it easy for guardians to log in and access vaccination records to provide to their child’s camp, daycare, or school. Likewise, the portal makes it easy for families to upload documents and send them to their pediatrician for a signature. The system can be used on a phone, tablet, or laptop, making it accessible to most families so long as they have access to the internet.
Similarly, the portal is an easy place to access COVID-19 and other testing records. Because most families are eagerly awaiting proof of testing to bring their child back to childcare or school, making these results available quickly must be a top priority. And as of December 2021, families can now download and print full test results from the PCC patient portal to provide as proof to these facilities.
In addition to this easy way to exchange forms, the portal offers a safe way to exchange messages with your patient’s family. Because these messages are exchanged through a secure system, families and providers aren’t having to send private health information via email, which can easily lead to HIPAA violations.
3. Deliver key messages directly to parents
Through PCC’s broadcast messaging, you can text or email families to alert them about new safety protocols, send out practice announcements, or even target select groups of patients who are eligible for the vaccine or are overdue for their wellness visits. This is also a great way to remind families that telehealth is available for upcoming appointments.
For practices that are delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to children, this feature can simplify visits by relaying information about upcoming appointments (e.g., stay in your car, sign in through our app, etc.). It’s also an easy way to let families know if you offer COVID-19 testing and what the process looks like.
Even if you run a smaller practice and are not delivering the vaccine to your patients, this messaging can help save lives. For example, some practices use broadcast messaging to point families to the nearest clinic or pharmacy that has available appointments.
4. Answer tough questions about childcare safety
In the past, guardians have generally had to follow the “24-hour rule” before bringing their child back to school or childcare following a fever. When COVID-19 entered the scene, that rule turned into 72 hours for many childcare facilities. Suddenly, when a child came down with a simple case of the sniffles, guardians had to worry about whether their child would be turned away for days at a time.
This is just one of the many health-related challenges guardians face in a COVID-19 world. Families want to do what is right by their child, but they are often left wondering:
- What if my child can’t keep a mask on their face at school?
- Is the vaccine safe for my eligible child?
- What is the risk of exposure if I bring my child to daycare so I can go to work?
Pediatricians know the children they see. They know their families and they have established a strong, trusting relationship with them. As a result, parents will look to you for your candid advice. This gives you a chance to provide factual information to stop misinformation in its tracks and help families make informed decisions about their child’s care and safety.
5. Establish yourself as a community resource
Misinformation, fear, and confusion have run rampant since the start of the pandemic.
It’s important to over-communicate information that’s backed by science and research, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve even seen some pediatricians start their own TikTok accounts to create fun videos to share factual vaccination information. Now’s the time to get creative in how you can reach your patients’ families and establish an authoritative presence in your community as a science-informed vaccination resource.
Many guardians also don’t know that their pediatrician can help connect them with needed resources. This is especially important during a time when many families are struggling to keep their heads above water. When you have the opportunity, don’t forget to share that you can help families connect with programs like WIC, food stamps, and preferred local partners (e.g., behavioral therapists, specialists, dentists, etc.).
PCC Can Help You Address COVID-19
At the end of the day, pediatricians are a primary figure in a child’s life. Using your influence to help families navigate COVID-19 will help keep your patients healthy and help their families navigate the pandemic.
Ready to see how PCC can make it easier for you to support your patients and their families? Request a consultation with one of our team members to learn more.