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The Case for Telemedicine and Pediatrics

Hattie Hayes

Written by Hattie Hayes

As any parent knows, pediatric care often comes with a sense of urgency. Whether a child has to leave school early due to illness, sustains an injury during sports or other activities, or is simply too young to articulate what's hurting, with kids, it's a good idea to head straight to the professionals. And for pediatricians, that equates to overcrowded waiting rooms and hectic office experiences. It can be a challenge to get kids into the office at all. Many parents are working in doctor's visits around school schedules, or trying to balance the needs of multiple children. As a physician, it may seem like there isn't a lot you can do to accommodate. As it turns out, telemedicine can be an impactful delivery solution for pediatric care that benefits patients and physicians.

The sad reality of pediatric care: there simply isn't enough of it.  Shortages for pediatric care are a huge challenge all over the country, especially in rural areas, and that care gap is even larger for pediatric specialities.  Pediatric surgeons, for example, are in high demand. Instead of conducting new patient consultations and follow-up care in the office, which can create an hours-long commute for patients in some areas, studies at multiple clinics have shown that telemedicine is an effective alternative. Within this year long study, one hundred percent of patient participants who utilized telehealth stated they would use it again, and would recommend it to another person.

Tele-pediatrics is also a great solution for children with chronic conditions or disabilities. If a child has a condition that manifests with behavioral challenges, or requires bulky medical devices and equipment, transportation to and from the doctor's office becomes a challenge. And for patients with conditions like epilepsy, asthma or diabetes, regular check-ins and upkeep are important to successful treatment plans. Pediatricians can use telemedicine to build highly-effective care strategies, and make sure patients stick with it. It's also easier for parents to ask questions when they have a concern, and prevent potential emergency situations. While telemedicine is no substitute for in-person care during a crisis, having access to physician knowledge can help parents prevent a trip to the emergency room in the first place.

The financial benefit to hospitals and pediatric practices is also a positive aspect of telehealth. According to one study from the University of California Davis Children's Hospital, implementing telemedicine in rural children's hospitals resulted in significant revenue increases. Through referrals and transfers, hospitals can also expand their patient base, providing quality care for more children across the region.
Children today are raised with technology, and adapt to it fast--more quickly than adults! In all likelihood, the children of today will eventually find our health tech fantasies to be their realities. So, go ahead and introduce telemedicine to your pediatric patients. Kids, parents and pediatric practitioners alike will see the benefits.


Do you use telehealth tech in your pediatric practice?

We'd love to hear about your experiences--leave a comment!

Published: March 22, 2016