Whidbey Island clinics trying out telemedicine

During times when telecommuting and teleconferencing are the new norm, it’s only natural that telemedicine should also follow.

Pediatric Associates of Whidbey Island began holding consultations over video about two weeks ago, around the time the COVID-19 pandemic visibly increased its spread statewide.

Both the Oak Harbor and the Freeland clinics are providing the service.

Dr. Robert Wagner, who practices at the Freeland location, said he believes most insurances cover it, including Apple Health.

Most of his recent consultations, about 50 percent, have involved talking over video or by phone.

“People are scared,” Wagner said. “They don’t really want to come into a doctor’s office if they think they could pick up an infectious illness.”

“For things where they can just get online and talk with somebody, it saves them the travel time and convenience, and it saves them the issue of coming into the office,” he said.

Telemedicine is used for follow-ups with returning patients,. New patients still need to come to the office for their first visits.

Wagner said telemedicine is useful for when people are determining whether their children need immediate medical attention. It’s also helpful for families with multiple children. And it is something the younger generation seems to be comfortable with.

There are some things that still require in-person care. Wagner worries that, by avoiding visiting the doctor, children may fall behind on vaccinations. He urges people to remember to stay current on vaccinations.