May 11

Pediatric Telemedicine: Possibilities and Implementation Best Practices

Vinati Kamani

The application of telehealth is no longer limited to the adult population. It is proving to be equally beneficial for pediatric care as well. 

Pediatric telemedicine is bridging the gap for accessing the right care. Children are the most prevalent vulnerable population in US society and have unique needs during the response to and recovery from public health emergencies.

As of 2016, 28% of children in the U.S. did not have full access to essential health services. Out of 73 million children under the age of 18 years in the US, 20.3 million children lacked access to care that meets modern pediatric standards and expectations. 

This gap has only widened in the wake of the recent pandemic where stringent lockdown measures and health and safety concerns barred people to seek routine care for their children. Pediatric telemedicine has proven its merit not only in making care accessible, it has also added an aspect of convenience and flexibility to child healthcare. 

According to a research study, 171 million visits were made to physicians’ offices by children younger than 18 years of age, for an overall rate of 232 visits per 100 population. Not only do pediatric visits account for a number of student’s days off from their schools, but they are also a huge contributing factor to the parents having to take time off work. 

Advent of pediatric telemedicine

The use of telemedicine in pediatric settings has proven to have significant advantages. It has shown to enhance patient satisfaction, result in cost savings, curb emergency department visits, and reduce the need for parents to take time off work. Telemedicine for pediatric sub-specialty has also proven effective in reducing the number of days patients need to wait for an in-person appointment, accelerating care and improving outcomes. 

Pediatric telemedicine is equally beneficial for practitioners allowing them to reduce patient no-shows, optimize practice efficiency, improve clinical outcomes and drive practice revenue. By bringing in pediatric doctors to the point of care, pediatric telemedicine opens up alternate avenues for the providers to connect with patients and their caregivers and ensure better healthcare delivery. 

Applications for pediatric telemedicine

1. Routine care visits and follow ups

Pediatric telemedicine visits are the perfect solution for routine health checkups and their followups. It also helps eliminate the long wait times for an in-person appointment for ailments such as common cold. It reduces the burden on the existing system while keeping the children safe from contracting infections in the pediatrician’s clinic as well. 

2. Pediatric care in chronic conditions

Children suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma require close monitoring and frequent check-ins with the pediatrician. Pediatric telemedicine can reduce the need for children suffering from chronic conditions to take leaves from school for doctor’s appointments. Careful supervision and medication management through telemedicine visits, can be instrumental in providing the children the need to keep the disease in check. 

3. Mental health counseling for children

Telehealth for children’s mental health needs can help them cope better by providing them diagnostic evaluation as well treatment sessions. Mental health telemedicine for children can help with a variety of behavioral issues, eating disorders, and learning impediments. It can also help children navigate through issues like anxiety and depression from the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. 

4. Lifestyle coaching and monitoring

Telemedicine allows for lifestyle related coaching and constant monitoring for children suffering from obesity and eating disorders with minimal disruption to their normal lives. Frequent check-ins with the experts help the children cope better while allowing the parents to stay in the loop at the same time. 

5. Nutrition related consultations 

Telehealth has provided the ability to improve health care delivery beyond the standard of care and pediatric nutrition is one area where it is excelling at. Using online nutrition counseling for children saw improvement in diet in 80% of the cases. Telehealth has proven itself useful for individual as well as group nutrition consultations. 

6. School based healthcare

School based telehealth improves healthcare access in the rural areas and helps overcome the barriers in access to care for children as well as adolescents. Telemedicine allows physicians and nurse practitioners to deliver care remotely, thus overcoming the challenges associated with shortage of staff and geographical distance. 

Considerations for integrating telemedicine into your pediatric practice

1. Multi-device capability for enhanced access

Telemedicine platforms initially started out as telecommunications and video conferencing through computers. However, with mobile phones and tablets becoming ubiquitous in the last decade, multi-device capability needs to be an integral part of when integrating telemedicine into your pediatric practice. 

Whether you choose to custom develop your telemedicine solution, the UX design planning and development already takes into account the devices that you plan to integrate. However, multi-device capability is something you need to proactively include in your development plan from the get-go, rather than adding it as an afterthought. This ensures optimum user experience from the patient’s perspective irrespective of the device they may be choosing to attend the telemedicine sessions with. 

Taking a mobile-first approach also enhances the accessibility of telemedicine sessions, thus reducing the chances of patient no-shows and ramping up your practice efficiency. 

2. Data storage and EHR integration

Pediatric telemedicine applications also need to ensure robust data storage and integration with the EHR or EMR systems that you are using. This makes the workflows streamlines and allows for seamless access to patient data at the time of the video consultation. 

The child’s previous medication and health history, vaccination records, any history of allergy, family’s medical history etc needs to be on the medical records to avoid repetition of information. Storage of the EHRs on cloud servers makes it secure and accessible when delivering care remotely. It also allows for specialist referrals in case the need arises. 

3. Data security and compliance

Pediatric telemedicine platforms need to be compliant with HIPAA privacy and security rules. Data encryption and use of secure connections are gold standard when it comes to ensuring the security of patient data. 

Cybersecurity best practices are a must for ensuring the sensitive patient data is kept safe when collecting, storing or transmitting sensitive patient health information. Working with experienced healthcare developers who specialize in telemedicine and its security requirements can give you a much needed heads up for ensuring compliance to security norms when developing a pediatric telemedicine platform. 

4. Integration with existing workflows

The focus when integrating pediatric telemedicine is having a platform that compliments your existing visit workflows. Right from appointment scheduling to billing and insurance, the telemedicine platform that you choose to build or buy needs to accommodate the existing workflows

Have more questions about pediatric telemedicine and how practice can benefit from it? Get in touch with our team of telemedicine specialists for a consultation today and know how you can make the most of technology within your practice. 

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