Telemedicine effective for assessing seriously ill children

Doctors' assessments of seriously ill children through the use of telemedicine were similar to bedside evaluations, according to new research published online in Pediatrics.

The doctors used the Yale Observation Scale to assess 132 children with fever, and 145 children with respiratory symptoms were evaluated using the Respiratory Observation Checklist. These two conditions were chosen for the study because they can be difficult to assess, the authors said.

A group of pediatric emergency physicians, fellows or mid-level providers served as evaluators, switching out to both assess children at the bedside and remotely. In addition, 30 children were assessed by two observers simultaneously at the bedside, and two observers via telemedicine to further evaluate inter-observer reliability, according to an announcement.

The researchers found excellent inter-observer reliability between bedside and telemedicine scoring of the respiratory distress cases, and excellent-to-good agreement between observers for the fever checklist.

"Such strong agreement by observers that a subject was in respiratory distress suggests that clinical impressions or 'gestalt' is not lost with telemedicine," the authors wrote.

A growing number of Delaware healthcare providers are using an iPad video solution to help determine whether pediatric respiratory patients should be transported to a different hospital.

What's more, a study from Case Western Reserve University and the University of Rochester  (N.Y.) Medical Center found a remote-healthcare model for children in daycare, elementary schools and neighborhood after-hours sites to be effective in establishing diagnoses and ruling out more serious conditions.

To learn more:
- here's the research
- read the announcement