Hi everyone. With school back in session, we are all ready for the fall. Here are some office updates:
- Flu Vaccine: Flu vaccine has arrived. You can call the front desk to schedule an appointment for a flu clinic visit for your child. Your child may also receive the vaccination at any upcoming office visit or well child check. Siblings can tag along to these visits for flu vaccination, but please notify the front desk in advance so we can schedule any add-on vaccination visits appropriately.
- COVID Testing: We continue to send all COVID testing for symptomatic patients and asymptomatic, exposed patients to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) with average turnaround time typically around 24hrs. We are now using Quest Laboratories for travel testing/school entry testing with turnaround time between 1-3 days.
- Appointment Availability: We are planning to increase our capacity for same day sick visits this fall and winter. Due to the potential for very high demand for office visits during this time, we may not always be able to guarantee these same day sick visits on very busy days, especially for less urgent matters. In cases where our schedule is full, we can typically offer you an appointment on the following day. More urgent medical concerns are always triaged by our phone nurse team, so they can be appropriately addressed in a timely manner - either booking an appointment at our office or referring to the emergency department if needed.
- MyChart: Please remember to only send non-urgent messages via the MyChart messaging application. This application is not to be used for any same day/urgent issues. We recommend you call our phone nurse line for any of these types of concerns that require a faster response time.
- Telehealth: We continue to offer telehealth services within our practice. We wanted to make sure everyone is aware that insurance carriers may soon be making changes to your coverage for telehealth services. Please check with your individual insurer for any updates in your coverage prior to booking a telehealth appointment. Additionally, due to changes in state and federal regulations, we are now more limited in our ability to provide out-of-state telehealth care for both medical and behavioral health visits. Our front desk staff may review your location status prior to booking any telehealth appointment to make sure we are in compliance with these statutes.
- Behavioral Health: We have hired another behavioral health clinician to our team, Parker Monks, LICSW. She can provide both in-person and virtual behavioral health support to our patients and families. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about scheduling an appointment with Parker. We are very proud to now have four behavioral health clinicians working at Needham Pediatrics, as we know how valuable their services are to our community!
Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Billing Update regarding Telehealth and COVID Testing Visits
Hi everyone. We want to share some information about how we bill for care at Needham Pediatrics, specifically regarding some changes that have arisen during the COVID pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly rolled out Telehealth capability, allowing many of our patients to get care remotely if they are unable to come into the office or feel safer being treated remotely. There are two types of telehealth visits: (1) videoconferencing encounters, and (2) audio-only encounters.
We bill both types of telehealth visits to your insurer, just as we would for an in-person visit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, because of a mandate from Governor Baker, insurers have significantly expanded their coverage of telehealth services. In most cases, your insurer will provide coverage for these visits in the same manner that they cover in-office visits. Telehealth encounters may be subject to co-payments or may be applied to your deductible, depending on your insurance plan.
Not all insurers are treating Telehealth visits in the same manner. If you are unsure about the specifics of your coverage for these visits, we suggest you contact your insurer. You are also free to contact our Billing team if you have questions regarding a bill you received from us.
Nursing Visits for COVID Testing
Patients who need COVID tests can have the tests done at Needham Pediatrics. Symptomatic patients or asymptomatic patients with an exposure will typically be given an appointment with our doctors or nurse practitioner for a clinical evaluation and for testing, if indicated. These visits will be billed with an "evaluation and management" or E/M code, as is standard for any "sick visit" in our office.
Asymptomatic patients without an exposure can have a COVID test done via a nurse visit, without needing to be seen by one of our providers. This type of visit is appropriate for asymptomatic patients who need testing because of travel, school, or an extracurricular activity.
Nurse visits for COVID testing will generate a billing charge from us. For these visits, we use a specific nurse-only billing code (E/M code of 99211). This charge is meant to cover our office costs associated with staff time, utilization of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and cleaning of examination rooms before and after your visit. In most cases your insurance will cover this charge, but depending on your insurance plan, deductibles or co-pays may apply. If you are unsure about the specifics of your insurance coverage, you should contact your insurer.
Currently, we send all our swabs for COVID-19 testing to either BID-Needham or Quest Laboratories. The labs will also generate a charge for performing the COVID test, separate from our office charge. In most cases, your insurance will cover this charge; again, co-pays and deductibles may apply.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Needham Pediatrics Welcomes Dr. Kailyn McDermott
Needham Pediatrics is very excited to introduce Dr. Kailyn McDermott! Dr. McDermott will be joining our practice towards the end of July 2020, and she will be working Wednesdays and Fridays. She is accepting new patients. Please contact our office if you would like to book an appointment with her.
Coronavirus Update June 2020
At Needham Pediatrics, we are committed to providing safe and outstanding medical care. There are new guidelines in place promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to protect patients and staff as best we can during this reopening phase and beyond.
Some of these organizational changes include:
- Thorough screening questions for all patients and their household contacts prior to the visit
- Anyone over the age of two is required to wear a face covering when entering the office
- Patients will continue to complete check-in from their cars on arrival and will be roomed directly from the parking lot
- We are managing appointments to keep sick and well visits separate as much as possible
- We prefer only one caregiver accompany your child for each visit
- Appointments are best handled by phone. Copays may be made via MyCharts in addition
- Individual exam rooms are cleaned and disinfected between every encounter
We are continuing to offer in-person and virtual appointments for both well and sick visits. Sick visits will be triaged in order to assess the optimal way we can address each issue, whether it be via telehealth or in-office care.
We look forward to seeing you and appreciate all of your support over the past few months. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the office with any questions or concerns. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy heading into the summer.
Coronavirus Update - March 20, 2020
As you are well aware, COVID-19 now is classified as a pandemic, spread worldwide, including many cases in the Boston area. Around 300 people have been diagnosed in Massachusetts, but most likely the actual number of infections is much higher.
Based on what we know so far, children are at low risk for complications of COVID-19. Middle aged and elderly people account for the great majority of serious cases. So, even if your child does acquire COVID-19, the illness will most likely be a minor flu-like illness which can be easily managed with routine care. Rarely, children will be hospitalized with pneumonia. Serious complications (requiring ICU care, for instance) are very rare in children.
In most cases, if your child has fever and cough but appears well, it is appropriate to manage with simple supportive care (rest, fluids, and fever control). If your child is younger than 2 years of age, or if fevers persist beyond a couple of days, it would be appropriate to contact us to consider an office evaluation. If your child appears to have trouble breathing or significant lethargy or significant dehydration, please do contact us immediately. In most such cases, we would refer you to the Emergency Department.
Because of the concern for COVID-19, many patients prefer not to come into our office for routine care. In some cases (but not all), we may be able to manage your concern via a Telehealth (or "virtual" visit). Please contact our office if you feel you need a virtual visit, an we can help you make arrangements.
Here are some links to the CDC and Massachusetts DPH for reliable information about COVID-19.
Reader's Choice Winner 2018!
Thanks to our patients for voting us Needham's favorite for Primary Care Physician in the 2018 Wicked Local Readers' Choice Award. Thanks also for voting us Blue Ribbon winner for best doctors in Needham in Hometown Weekly Newspapers. We appreciate these recognitions and look forward to continuing to meet your needs in the coming year!