Telemedicine consults in Latin America prove useful for pediatric care

Physicians in Latin America who participated in pediatric consultations via telemedicine with researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC were "highly satisfied" with the service, according to a new study.

The study, published this month in Telemedicine and e-Health, followed telemedicine consultations at three hospitals in Colombia and one in Mexico. At the hospitals, Children's physicians provided more than 1,000 consultations, with real-time intervention taking place in 23 percent of encounters, according to the study. 

Ninety-six percent of physicians were satisfied or highly satisfied with the service, according to anonymous surveys of participants. Some physicians also said they adjusted their practice after the consultations; changes in surgical management were noted most frequently, according to the study.

The research shows that telemedicine-assisted pediatric care is possible internationally, and physicians consider it to be useful for patient outcomes, according to Ricardo Muñoz, chief of the cardiac intensive care division at Children's, who led the study. The Children's researchers hope to use the results of the study to create a common approach for future tele-consultations.

"With continuing improvements in telemedicine technology and our own practices, we will continue to expand access to the world's best healthcare for children around the world," Munoz said in an announcement.

Pediatric telemedicine is not only being used overseas, but also on the seas as well. In September, cruise line MSC Cruises will offer guests a multilingual pediatric telemedicine service, FierceHealthIT recently reported.

And in the U.S., telemedicine for the most vulnerable is on the rise. In November, the University of California Davis Children's Hospital of Sacramento was awarded about $750,000 over three years to expand telehealth services for newborns in rural areas.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the study (.pdf)