As technology continues to create new opportunities for better healthcare solutions, doctors and patients alike are warming up to new ideas, like telehealth. By leveraging modern communications technology, telehealth is improving access to and quality of care for millions of Americans, including children. While the goal of any healthcare system is to provide the best care possible, telehealth has added benefits that should make it an even more desirable alternative for both parents and doctors.
Less time away from work/Fewer missed appointments
Children under 15 visit doctors’ offices some 71 million times each year – it’s the single greatest reason for their parents having to miss time from work. By leveraging telehealth capabilities, parents can schedule virtual visits at any time, from anywhere, to avoid having to miss time from work, while still ensuring their children get the care they need. Similarly, doctors will experience fewer missed appointments due to parents not being able to get to the clinic due to long commutes in rural areas, or simply because of busy schedules in corporate offices. Either way, telehealth makes pediatric care more convenient, efficient, and accessible
Telehealth in schools
Integrating telehealth services into school nurses’ offices can allow children to be diagnosed more effectively and accurately. With access to telehealth pediatricians, school nurses can have access to better information to determine whether students should be sent home to rest, be taken to a doctor, or be allowed to stay in school. The result is a better assessment of children’s conditions and better instructions for parents – including making sure they leave work only if needed – as well as a reduction in unnecessary office visits. A recent study found that a Rochester, New York school telehealth program “significantly improved symptoms and reduced healthcare utilization” for children with asthma.
Reduced spread of germs
Every parent has been in situations where they worry about their child becoming ill from being near sick children. Telehealth can help reduce the spread of contagious illnesses by allowing sick children to be seen and diagnosed virtually. Similarly, with school-based telehealth, school nurses are able to receive better diagnoses of sick students to help avoid the spread of germs in schools.
Availability of care
As any parent knows, children often find ways of feeling ill at the most inconvenient times. Whether on vacation or in the middle of a family holiday dinner, telehealth provides access to care anytime, anywhere, including when pediatricians’ offices are closed. This also reduces costly visits to emergency rooms.
Better communication and follow-up
Often, doctors want to see their patients for follow-up visits to see if symptoms have improved. In many cases, this can be easily accomplished using telehealth services, saving time and cost for both parents and doctors. Likewise, telehealth services offer an opportunity for increased and better dialogue between parents and doctors, helping drive better pain or medication management, injury treatment, and other extended care needs like appropriate use of asthma medication.
More patients, less time
There is little more frustrating that walking into an overcrowded waiting room with a child, whether for a well visit or illness diagnosis. Telehealth eliminates travel requirements and the time (and expense) of prepping rooms for each new patient, allowing doctors to see more patients in a shorter period. The end result is a higher degree of satisfaction for both children and parents, and doctors are able to get more done, also helping reduce the impact of the current physician shortage.
Just like any other patient group, not all pediatric visits can be replaced with telehealth visits. But, there are many that can, which will free up doctors to see those in need of office visits more efficiently, while providing better and faster care to those whose needs are able to be met through telehealth.
To learn more about how telehealth can help you provide better pediatric or other services, click here.