Telemedicine saves pediatric urologist time, reduces appointment waiting

William Kennedy, M.D., has become "the doctor on TV" to many of his young patients thanks to telemedicine, and says the technology helps him use his time in a more productive way, according to an article at Becker's Health IT & CIO Review.

Kennedy, chief of pediatric urology at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford Children's Health, used to drive from his Palo Alto, California, office to Monterey to treat patients--time he felt he could have used to see more patients.

In addiction, sometimes the Monterey patients would have to drive 80 miles to visit his Palo Alto office, forcing parents to take off work and kids to miss school.

Now with a nurse practitioner using a high-resolution camera and microphone, he sees patients on a 56-inch high-definition monitor through a secure communication network. He also can see patients when he is traveling, using his laptop, secure software and a plug-in high-definition video camera that fits in his backpack.

"It's a true clinical experience," Kennedy tells Becker's, "and it has tremendous benefit for people living in rural and underserved areas who need access to specialty care."

One of the biggest benefits is the reduced time patients have to wait for a clinical appointment. Due to the limited number of pediatric urologists, that wait used to be 60 days, but with telehealth it has been reduced to two weeks.

Kennedy says he sees the program as a model for the use of telemedicine in other pediatric specialties.

Andrey Ostrovsky, M.D., an attending physician at Children's National Medical Center in the District of Columbia and software entrepreneur, recently spoke with FierceHealthIT about how the financing of healthcare for children, specifically Medicaid-based reimbursement, poses a barrier to the use of telemedicine in pediatrics.

However, Children's Health System of Texas is rolling out a telemedicine system in 57 schools in North Texas in which Medicaid-eligible children can see a doctor from the school nurse's office during the school day. In addition, a new law in Texas enables similar programs to be set up throughout the state.

To learn more:
- read the article