Telehealth for the Win

  • Fall 2020

Dietitian doing a telehealth visit

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brookings Health began offering telehealth visit options for nutrition consultations and speech therapy. Telehealth visits allow patients to still have access to medical services with the same local health professionals they know and trust while maintaining social distancing. 

Telehealth visits take place via a HIPAA compliant platform, ensuring personal health information stays confidential. Visits are required to have both audio and visual components. In addition, patients need a device capable of connecting to the internet, such as a computer, smart phone or tablet, as well as a valid email address.

These visits are ideal for those who are not comfortable in a public setting. Patients are sent paperwork and any other needed material in the mail along with an email containing a link to log in for their appointment. 

“We have continued to see patients in our building,” said Lindsey Bothwell, speech-language pathologist, “but some of our therapy kids are more immunocompromised and thus telehealth is a great option for these kids” 

While finding a way to meet with patients one way or another helps to avoid losing any therapy progress, telehealth can bring challenges to overcome. One challenge: keeping children entertained during visits. It takes creativity to keep kids motivated while still meeting their goals. An example: Bothwell sees if the kids have the game Candy Land at home. She has the child move and play for her during their telehealth therapy session, making it similar to a  face-to-face session.

“You’re going to get the same education that you’re going to get if you would come in in-person,” said Dietitian Katy VanderWal. She added if it is a covered service, it gives added convenience for those who live out of town or receive home health care. 

As one example of a telehealth win, VanderWal worked with a home health patient to discuss their diet and nutrition needs. The occupational therapy staff, who were already making home visits to the patient, identified the need for the consultation. The therapy team helped get the technology set up, making it possible for VanderWal to educate the patient in the comfort of the patient’s home. Nursing and therapy staff were present with the patient, allowing everyone to be on the same page and keep the patient’s care headed down the right path. 

In order to access these services, a doctor referral is required. Before making an appointment, Brookings Health recommends patients contact their insurance provider to ensure telehealth services will be covered. Face-to-face appointments are still available if telehealth is not covered.

Brookings Health plans to continue looking for ways to expand telehealth options for other services. More information about Brookings Health’s full service line can be found on