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Colons and COVID-19: How CCPR Is Utilizing Telehealth

Feb 04, 2021
Doctor conducting telehealth appointment on laptop

The Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction (CCPR) has the privilege to meet and care for patients from all over the world. We have always offered our existing patients follow-up care via phone, but with the advancements of telemedicine due to the COVID-19 pandemic we can now offer video calls in certain circumstances.

At the current time, select patients can schedule these visits with their surgeon or nurse practitioner. Once the visit is complete, the provider may be able to give many of the same recommendations as an in-person clinic visit, including prescriptions, supply orders, and at times schedule a surgery or in-person visit with additional testing.

What Should We Expect From a Telehealth Visit?

Telehealth visits are very similar to an in-person visit. Before the visit, we will ask you to ensure that the appropriate software is installed on your phone or computer. The patient and their family will “check-in” virtually using MyChart at the scheduled appointment time, and then the provider will join.

The provider will go through the patient’s current allergies, medications, past medical and surgical history, and other health conditions before proceeding with a limited physical exam by video. They will finish the visit by providing recommendations, education, and any other necessary next steps.

Our center also offers a psychosocial component to telehealth visits. During a telehealth visit, social workers complete psychosocial assessments and safety screens to address potential barriers and safety concerns. If additional resources are needed, such as a referral to an outside agency, accommodations for travel, or linkage to community resources, the social work team will work in collaboration with those organizations and the medical team to ensure that all needs are met. 

Who Qualifies for a Telehealth Visit?

Recommendations can vary between patients, however for the CCPR we have determined that patients who meet the following criteria may be appropriate for telehealth visits:

  • Established patients who have non-emergent new or worsening symptoms
  • Established patients who need their annual follow-up visit with no acute medical concerns
  • Established patients who can get necessary testing locally and send us the results
  • New and established patients who live in states where our providers are allowed to practice telehealth
  • Select new patients who are meeting our team for the first time may qualify for an initial telemedicine consult, but ultimately will need to come for an in-person visit.

Can the Remote Bowel Management Program Be Done Remotely?

Our bowel management program has undergone many changes in the face of COVID-19. While this is typically a weeklong program involving three in-person clinic visits, we now have the ability to provide telehealth for some patients during bowel management week.

Certain patients will qualify for all three of their bowel management visits to be done remotely via telemedicine, but many will need to come in person for their first visit and have their follow-up visits remotely the next week. Patients may still choose to have all their visits be in person, and providers may require patients to come for all three visits in-person.

During remote bowel management, families can participate in a parent support group led by the social work team on a virtual platform. This support group is a safe space where families can openly discuss the different challenges and successes they experience during bowel management week while also providing peer support to each other. 

Telemedicine is a wonderful tool and has expanded access to care for many of our patients. However, it is not right for everyone. While we can see the patients during the telemedicine visits, we are not able to perform a physical exam that is as thorough as what we would do in person. This may make it difficult for the provider to determine what is going on with the patient.

For this reason, we may ask that patients come in person after their telemedicine visit in order to get additional testing and/or a more thorough physical exam. Any patient who is experiencing emergency symptoms is not appropriate for telemedicine and should be seen in-person either in clinic or in the emergency department.

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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Sarah Driesbach, CPN, APN
Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction

Sarah Driesbach serves as an advance practitioner nurse at The Center for The Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction (CCPR) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Sarah utilizes her diverse background and experiences caring for patients with complex colorectal and urological conditions. Sarah joined the CCPR Team in 2017.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Stephanie Vyrostek BSN, RN
Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction
Rachel Tyson, LSW
Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction
Natalie Rose
Natalie Rose, BSN, RN
Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction

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