To ensure that patients receive uninterrupted, high-quality cancer care while avoiding unnecessary trips during the coronavirus outbreak, Regional Cancer Care Associates, LLC (RCCA) is offering telemedicine, or virtual visits.
RCCA’s offices remain open for all patients who need in-person care, such as for chemotherapy or other treatment. Those offices are employing pre-visit screening, rigorous sanitization and other procedures to protect the health of all patients and staff at our offices.
In many cases, however, visits can take place virtually, with physicians or other clinicians talking with patients by phone or video platforms. Read on for answers to several frequently asked questions about virtual visits and, please remember, we are always here for you.
- If I have an appointment for an upcoming office visit, how will I know whether I can switch to a telemedicine visit or need to be seen in person?
Please call your physician’s office to check. The office staff or nurses will be able to tell you which type of visit is most appropriate for you at this point in your care. Also, RCCA offices reach out to patients one day in advance of their visits to confirm appointments. If you haven’t spoken with the office previously, a staff member will tell you at that time which type of visit is right for you.
- What if I want to be seen in person so that the doctor can examine a symptom that concerns me, such as a rash?
The technology used for telemedicine visits will enable your physician to visually examine your rash and guide you on how to address it. If the physician is concerned about something you report or that he or she sees during a telemedicine visit, appropriate follow-up steps, such as an in-person visit, will be arranged.
- How does a telemedicine visit work in terms of the technology? Is it just a phone call, or do I need to use a laptop with a camera? If the visit is taking place via a laptop or tablet, how will I connect with RCCA for the visit?
Telemedicine can be just a phone call in many cases. Depending on your needs, the physician may want to use video with an audio connection to best serve you. In such circumstances, you will need a laptop with a camera or a smart phone. Telemedicine also includes using your Patient Portal to email communications to your physician and your health care team.
- For videoconferences, will you send me an email with a link that I can click on, or is there some other step I will need to take?
To participate in a videoconference, you will just need to click on a link that your physician or provider will send to you.
- How does a telemedicine visit work in terms of who I will see? Will I talk with the nurse first, and then my physician? Just my doctor?
During a telemedicine visit, you will see your physician or, on occasion, another physician or advanced practice clinician scheduled to see your physician’s patients that day. Depending on your care needs, you may also see one or more other members of your care team, such as a nurse or medical assistant.
- How should I prepare to make the most of my telemedicine visit? What information should I have available?
You should prepare the same way you do for an in-person meeting. There are no additional requirements for telemedicine visits. As always, however, please write down anything you want to tell the doctor about, and any questions you want to ask.
- My husband/wife/partner/friend/adult child always comes with me to my visits. Can they join me for the telemedicine visit? Can we conference in my son/daughter/friend who doesn’t live with me?
Yes. During a telemedicine visit, you may invite family members and any other persons you want to listen in and/or see your consultation with the physician. Your physician or health care provider will record the names and roles of all participants in the consultation.
- Are insurers covering telemedicine visits? How is the co-pay and claims paperwork handled?
Most insurers are covering telemedicine visits during the Covid-19 pandemic. You may want to check with your insurer about its specific policies.
- If I must go to my RCCA office for care that can’t be provided over the phone, such as chemotherapy, what procedures should I follow given concerns about the coronavirus?
Each RCCA center is screening patients by telephone prior to their visit to ensure that they do not have signs or symptoms of the coronavirus. Upon arrival at the office, patients are again screened at the front door prior to entering the center.<
Beyond the steps to take in advance of an office visit, please be sure to follow the general guidelines put forth by the CDC, which include avoiding going out unless absolutely necessary, practicing social distancing when you are out, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, using sanitizer when soap and water are not available, and reporting new symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc. Your physician can inform you of any other recommended steps specifically related to your health status and care plan.
- What steps is RCCA taking to protect the health of patients who must come to its offices for care?
RCCA has taken several steps to protect both its patients and its staff. These steps include ensuring that staff are equipped with personnel protective equipment, or PPE, when providing clinical services, rigorous hand washing, sanitizing the workspace, and limiting non-essential individuals in the office.
- Who should I contact if I have other questions?
Please contact your physician’s office with any additional questions.