It has been the most activity-filled day for all our clinical and operations teams. As we make a move towards minimizing exposure to COVID-19, our front office staff has made significant progress in accommodating requests for converting in-person patient appointments to telemedicine. Please take a moment when you can to recognize their efforts.
In addition to scheduling our existing patients, there is a significant need to continue seeing new patients. We take care of a very vulnerable population and they are at a significantly increased risk at this time. If we refuse to see new patients then they do not have anywhere to turn as all resources are scarce and primary care/urgent care/emergency rooms are filling with patients with symptoms of flu. I would strongly encourage all our clinicians to not limit seeing new patients via TM. I would also ask for your help in opening your schedule to patients that are outside of your geographic location for TM. While evaluating new patients via TM, there are two important factors to consider, in addition to completing an evaluation as usual:
Consent for TM appointments and consent for treatment: You can obtain verbal consent for these and document in your note.
Controlled substance prescriptions: due to the Ryan Haight Act we cannot prescribe controlled substances to a patient that has not been evaluated in person at least once. The intake team can do their best to advise patients about this before scheduling and patients will need to be understanding of this restriction.
We have received reports from several clinicians who have been seeing new patients via TM in the last few days and have not faced any significant issues so far. Please let me know if you are willing to see new patients regardless of their geographic location in California. Your willingness to help out is greatly appreciated.