Telemedicine effective in care for children with special healthcare needs

Telemedicine is a valuable tool for treating children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN) as well children in regular childcare and school (CRS), according to research published in the August edition of Telemedicine and e-Health.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center chose to study the effectiveness and safety of using the Health-e-Access telemedicine model at schools for children with special health needs. The model originally was focused on regular childcare schools.

CSHCN make up about 16 percent of the population, but they also account for almost half of all children's medical expenses, according to the researchers. In addition, it is a struggle for many patients to see healthcare providers in person, whether due to logistical issues or anxiety and fear the patient may feel in the doctor's office.

The researchers found that the telehealth model was just as effective for CSHCN as it was for CRS. In fact, there was a 98.1 percent completion rate for visits by CSHCN, which was a tick higher than the 97.6 percent completion rate for telemedicine visits by CRS.

In addition, there was only a 0.3 percent rate for adverse events for CSHCN, and 0.5 percent for CRS, according to the researchers.

Another report, from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, also found telemedicine to be a good option for CSHCN; however, the report also found that telehealth is not being used to its full potential in such cases. Reimbursement, lack of knowledge about the tools and privacy concerns were some of the barriers cited in that report.

The service, however, is evolving and becoming more mainstream, and providers are looking to the take technology even further--through mobile apps, texting and more.

To learn more:
- here's the study (.pdf)