Telehealth in Perspective: Pediatrics

Telehealth connective technology is taking off. We're seeing the tech proliferate and diversify into a wide range of healthcare settings, and it is no surprise that this onrush of ideas has spread to the field of pediatrics, where providers can not only improve the quality of care for their patients, but also improve the experience for their patient’s families.

Dr. Neil Harendeen, who has conducted 12,000 virtual pediatric visits using telehealth since 2001, claims that there has been a 63% reduction in preschool absences and a 23% reduction in evening-hour emergency room visits. Dr. Harendeen says telehealth saves his practice overhead and takes up less time than if those visits were made in person, making the lives of both his patients and his staff easier.

At Boston Children's Hospital, pediatricians are using telehealth as a frontline reconnaissance tool to triage sick children in order to determine the best route for care. Imagine letting your sick child speak to a nurse from his own room instead of from a waiting room at a clinic or imagine driving straight to the provider your sick child needs to see, because you video chatted with a nurse who would have met you at the ER. At Boston Children’s Hospital, once children are admitted telehealth also functions as an integrated coordinated care platform between pediatric partners, transferring medical images and vital stats between collaborators. Providers can collaborate to provide the best care in the shortest amount of time.

Many pediatricians have also been using these networking capabilities to collaborate with colleagues and provide specialty consults. One such program, Pediatric Position Learning and Collaboration Education, facilitated by the University of Arkansas, connects pediatricians to compare notes and strategies to develop best practices. The program aims to link every pediatrician in Arkansas and is a valuable case study for demonstrating how telehealth networking can bring specialists together in a robust web of knowledge exchange and dialogue. A study found that 93% of respondents stated that such programs would directly and positively influence their practices and improve patient care, and 98% said it enhanced their knowledge.

Pediatricians and other medical specialists alike are embracing telehealth to improve the lives of their patients and staff. Convenience, efficiency, a higher standard of care and improved time management are just some of the perks that telehealth brings to the field of pediatric care.