Everything You Need to Know about Pediatric Virtual Visits


Dr. Gina Boutwell, Pediatrician at South Shore Medical Center

Gina Boutwell, MD, Pediatrician

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. Birthday parties have been postponed, classrooms have been moved to living rooms, and graduation ceremonies are being held virtually.

Everyone knows these social distancing measures are for the greater good, and it’s important that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, social distancing shouldn’t come at the expense of your health or the health of your children.

It’s important for any patient to maintain regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments, but it’s especially important for children. Annual well-child visits help ensure that your child’s growth and development are on track.

Also, let’s face it — kids are still going to get sick and are still going to require care, even during social distancing.

With that in mind, South Shore Medical Center has introduced virtual visits for both pediatric and adult patients.

What are virtual visits?

Virtual visits are medical visits that are held via either phone or video call, allowing patients to get medical issues checked out without having to sit face-to-face with a provider.

Think of virtual visits as a modern twist on doctor’s visits in days past: doctors are back to making house calls, but are making them virtually instead!

These visits allow patients to keep in touch with their care providers without having to make a trip into the office. 

You’ll still get the same level of care you’ve come to expect from South Shore Medical Center, but you won’t have to leave home to get it!

What kind of pediatric visits can be held virtually?

Virtual visits can be scheduled for most visits you’d normally have in the office. These include both regularly scheduled well-child visits and sick visits that may come up at the last minute.

What electronic equipment is needed for a virtual visit?

For video visits, patients need to have either a smartphone or a computer with a microphone and a camera.

Smartphone users can download the Zoom app in advance of the visit, as that’s the platform that’s used for video appointments.

If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, it’s a good idea to test your setup in advance of the visit, just to ensure that there are no technical difficulties.

What other equipment should I have?

While no additional equipment is required, there are a few tools that can help. These include:

  • A scale
  • A tape measure or similar device to measure your child’s height
  • A thermometer
  • A flashlight

Additionally, if you have access to a pulse oximeter or can measure blood pressure at home, that would be helpful as well.

How can I prepare for a virtual visit?

First, pick a room that is well lit so we’ll be able to see you and your child clearly. Try to find a quiet space — though we know that can be a challenge with everyone at home these days.

Make sure there is room for your child to lie down, in case we need you to do some observed examination techniques. The flashlight can be used in the event that we need to examine your child’s throat or mouth.

If possible, please record your child's height, weight, head circumference, and temperature before the visit begins. A nurse may call you shortly before the visit to collect that information, as having it in advance will help with the flow of the visit.

Also, it’s best to log into your email 5-10 minutes in advance of your child’s appointment, as you’ll receive an email with a link to launch the appointment.

While we always do our best to be punctual, appointments will occasionally run long. If 15 minutes have passed since your scheduled appointment time and you still haven’t received an email, please call the office.

What else do I need to know about virtual visits?

The main thing: don’t stress! We don’t expect virtual visits to go smoothly from beginning to end. We know that your kids may be antsy, or that they may have trouble focusing during this different setting.

Sometimes, it helps to start off the visit by talking about something else — maybe we can say hi to siblings or to the family pet, or your child can show us his or her favorite toy or game. 

Things like this can help your child get more comfortable with what can be an unusual situation.

Another important thing to remember: ask questions!

It’s important that you treat a virtual visit the same way you’d treat an in-person visit. Ask us questions, raise concerns, bring up things that have been on your mind.

What about visits that can’t be held virtually?

While virtual visits are a convenient option for many appointments, they’re not suitable for every situation. For example, vaccinations, lab work, or imaging work still must be done on-site.

Rest assured: our team is taking every precaution to keep patients and staff safe.

Infection control procedures are in place at all South Shore Medical Center locations. Staff are screened for illness daily, and all staff have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

How can I schedule a virtual visit?

Virtual visits can be scheduled like a regular visit!

Give your South Shore Medical Center location a call and book an appointment with a secretary or nurse like you normally would — just mention that you’d like the visit to be held virtually.

Virtual visits are available for most normal appointments, including pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, and specialty care.

Learn more about virtual visits at South Shore Medical Center.


Gina Boutwell, MD is a pediatrician at South Shore Medical Center. She is currently accepting new patients.