MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Like so many others, Miami mom Jenise Subervi is staying safe at home, rarely leaving her house for anything, not even to visit the pediatrician when her daughter had a cough recently.
“Right at the start of all of this, the first day that we were home, my daughter woke up with a very croupy cough,” Subervi said. “I was like ‘Oh man. We have to go to the pediatrician.’ I was like, ‘Wait, no we don’t.’ I set up an appointment. I recorded her cough. I sent it over to them and right away they were like ‘Yes, let’s attack it this way.’”
Subervi has a membership with Blueberry Pediatrics, a Florida-based group of on-demand pediatricians ready to diagnose patients through a smartphone app.
Dr. Lyndsey Garbi is their chief pediatrician.
We typically respond within 15 to 20 minutes,” Dr. Garbi told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.
“Parents can utilize us for things you may not have to go into the office for. Cuts, bruises, even runny nose, earaches, fevers. Things that are still popping up. We are able to handle and hopefully keep you in the comfort of your home.”
The goal is to keep patients out of urgent care and emergency rooms, both to stop the spread and to avoid overwhelming the system already coping with coronavirus cases.
But concerned parents can still get detailed advice over the phone, thanks to Blueberry’s “toolkit.”
“In that toolkit, they get an otoscope, so that’s a camera with a piece that goes into the child’s ear like going into the office. And a pulse ox that goes on the finger that tells us how the child is oxygenating and their heart rate. These are vital signs. With these tools we are able to make more diagnoses at home and keep kids at home rather than run to urgent care or ERs, we want to keep everyone out of right now,” Dr. Garbi said.
Services like TelaDoc and DoctorOnDemand have reported an increase in use during the pandemic.
Lawmakers have recognized the benefits of Telehealth during times like these, recently introducing legislation to set aside $2 billion to improve broadband connectivity for Telehealth programs.
It’s a significant investment, but for parents like Subervi, she’s paying $15 a month for the luxury of having a doctor on-call in the palm of her hand.
“My copay when I go to the doctor for a sick visit is $25. “So immediately this has already paid for one visit at a doctor’s office. And that doesn’t mention if I have to go to the urgent care or ER where my copay could be from $150 to $300 dollars,” she said. “I would say that I have saved money using them over the course of two years.”
This month, Blueberry Pediatrics’ usual $100 sign-up fee has been dropped down to $15 as well.
There are also other Telehealth services out there that may be compatible with your insurance, so be sure to contact your healthcare provider to find out.
It’s important to note, this service is not a substitute for your regular pediatrician, whom your kids should still see for their well visits and other healthcare concerns.
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