Telegenetics and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Greenwood Genetic Center started providing telegenetics services in 2016 to improve access and convenience for patients. We have served hundreds of
patients via telegenetics, and in this time of isolation and social distancing, we are using telegenetics on a larger scale to provide clinical services
to patients in their homes. This will allow us to safely serve the needs of our patients and their families during this uncertain time.
*We are not using telegenetics to evaluate patients for coronavirus. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of a contagious illness, like coronavirus, please contact your primary healthcare provider or use one of the virtual appointment options available here.
What is telegenetics?
Telegenetics is the process of providing a genetics consultation and/or genetic counseling when the patient is in a different location than the healthcare provider using computers and personal devices such as smartphones or tablets. The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) strives to provide telegenetics appointments with the same high-quality level of care that patients receive in face-to-face visits.
What equipment do I need for a telegenetics visit?
You will need a device with a camera and a microphone. These devices include a smartphone, tablet, personal computer, or laptop. For appointments requiring a physical exam, a handheld device (smartphone or tablet) will likely work best. Internet access is also required through either Wi-Fi or a data plan. Data rates may apply.
What if I don’t have a mobile device or home internet?
For genetics consults, it is most often necessary for the provider to be able to physically see you/your child. If you do not have home internet service or a device with video capability, we may need to reschedule you for an in-person appointment, possibly for a later date.
If your appointment is to review test results or the provider feels that they can serve you well via telephone, that may also be an option.
How do I prepare for a telegenetics appointment?
- Please plan to use a quiet space in your home for the appointment. This will allow us to be able to communicate more easily with you.
- You must download the free Microsoft Teams app before your scheduled appointment time. You can download the free app here:
- If the appropriate app has not been downloaded before your appointment time, your appointment will be rescheduled.
- Please make sure your device is fully charged before the appointment.
- You will receive a secure and unique link to connect by email approximately two days before your appointment. That message will also include more instructions and helpful tips to make the telegenetics visit successful.
- Please log on to the app approximately 5-10 minutes before your appointment time. If you log on more than 15 minutes late, your appointment will be rescheduled.
- Other than that, prepare for a telegenetics appointment just as you would for an in-person visit.
- Gather information regarding your family medical history including health issues, learning problems, and genetic conditions.
- Have a complete list of medications.
- Have the names of current physicians or other healthcare providers.
- Collect patient photos to share with the genetic providers. These can be helpful to the geneticist in looking for patterns of physical features.
- Have a list of questions ready to make the most of your visit.
What should I expect during the telegenetics appointment?
While each genetics appointment is unique, most patients will first be greeted by a GGC employee for check-in and to confirm your demographic and insurance information.
Next a genetic counselor or genetic assistant will talk with you about you/your child’s medical and family history. There will be a brief break as the genetic counselor or genetic assistant shares this information with the geneticist.
The geneticist will then join the appointment. They may ask more questions, and if a physical exam is required, they will ask you to assist using the camera on your device. For example, they may ask you to show a close-up image of your/your child’s face or any birthmarks, etc. The provider will walk you through any views that are needed. Just like an in-person visit, he or she will talk with you about their impressions, answer your questions, and will discuss any genetic testing that is suggested.
Is telegenetics covered by my insurance?
Telegenetics visits will be billed just like a typical office visit, and your insurance will be filed. You will not be billed any more than you would be for an in-person appointment.
If genetic testing is suggested, then additional laboratory charges may apply, depending upon your insurance. The cost associated with genetic testing will be discussed with you by your GGC provider before any testing is done.
Is telegenetics secure?
The Greenwood Genetic Center follows patient privacy and security guidelines under HIPAA for all of our patients. Telegenetics visits are conducted through a secure, encrypted channel, and any patient information gathered or transmitted through telegenetics is held to the same high standards of confidentiality that we use for in-person visits.
The Greenwood Genetic Center uses secure apps to communicate with you through a secure video link. These apps are HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms, so your personal health information is protected. Consumer video apps such as FaceTime or Skype are not secure for medical purposes.
What happens if I/my child needs genetic testing?
If genetic testing is suggested, the testing process will be explained by your provider. They will discuss cost, insurance coverage, and how long test results will take.
Thank you for your understanding during this time. Our providers are working hard to make sure that your telegenetics visit is as thorough and helpful as an in-person visit. If you have other questions before your appointment, please call the GGC office nearest you.