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Can Telehealth Technologies Improve Pediatric Care?

By Vera Gruessner

- As new technologies continue to revolutionize the healthcare industry, physicians and medical professionals will obtain new ways of monitoring patients and strengthening communication between providers and patients. For instance, telehealth technologies offer a wide variety of opportunities for both the physician and patient communities.

Telemedicine Technology

Primary care pediatricians may be able to transform their practice if they begin utilizing telehealth technologies, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, telehealth technologies are expected to improve patient care access and physician workforce shortages.

Telemedicine is also seen as a means for improving communication between physicians, lowering costs, and offer more efficient, high-quality care. In particular, telehealth technologies, like video conferencing, helps reduce the burden of travel of patients and their families.

For the pediatric field, it is predicted that telehealth technologies could be “used to deliver the same or enhanced care that is currently provided, only over a distance.” Telemedicine has expanded ever since the patient-centered medical home became a common concept of care delivery within the medical industry. Greater care coordination is expected with the increased use of telehealth technologies across patient-centered medical home systems. In particular, children with special healthcare needs will receive high-quality services.

“There is significant disparity in the geographic distribution of pediatric physicians across the country, resulting in many underserved regions,” the report stated. “Underserved communities are most commonly found in rural regions, but can include suburban and urban settings. This misdistribution of workforce results in differential access and is at least partly to blame for differential health outcomes between rural and non-rural populations, particularly for those children with special health care needs.”

There are specific benefits to the pediatric profession telemedicine brings including using telehealth technologies for clinical consultations, case discussions, and greater efficiency among primary care pediatricians. In addition, telemedicine services can help physicians treat more patients in the same amount of time, as it reduces wait times.

“By increasing health care access for children, particularly for children living in rural communities, the use of telemedicine technologies can help reduce missed appointment rates, increase adherence to recommended therapies, and help ensure the appropriate frequency of recommended physician visits,” the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics stated.

In addition to the benefits stated previously, telehealth technologies are expected to boost communication between the pediatric care team and patients in a way that could improve disease management. There are certain barriers that are standing in the way of telemedicine adoption including the financial investment in equipment and telecommunications software. Even the maintenance of these telehealth technologies requires significant financial resources. As such, smaller medical practices that don’t have a large surplus of funding may have trouble adopting a telehealth approach.

With the help of partnerships and relationships between various medical facilities, it may be easier for smaller clinics to develop telemedicine services. Essentially, the use of telehealth technologies will reduce gaps in pediatric care across the country.

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