Taking telemedicine to school: How providers, educators are keeping kids in class

By Katie Dvorak

The kids are back in school, the weather is turning cooler and flu season will soon be upon us, but three healthcare systems are working to keep students healthy and in the classroom with help from telemedicine.

"Schools are where our children are for the majority of the day and the majority of the week, and so it really is why we are partnering with the school districts," Julie Hall-Barrow, senior director of Healthcare Innovation Telemedicine at Dallas Children's Medical Center, said.

"They are a trusted partner of the family, and we want to be a trusted partner with the family as well and reach them where they are," she told FierceHealthIT.

The Dallas-based health system ran a pilot of its in-school telemedicine program at 27 schools last year; due to its success, it now has rolled the initiative out to 57 for 2015.

For San Juan Health Partners, the telemedicine program it just rolled out this year in seven New Mexico schools not only helps students, but nurses at the schools, as well.

There are seven schools but only three nurses, as well as several health aides, Benedikte Whitman, service line coordinator at San Juan Health Partners, said in an interview. So one of the corollary benefits was that nurses would be able to communicate with the aides without having to physically travel back and forth to each school, she said.

The Medical University of South Carolina also is seeing a big year for its school-based telehealth program, expanding from three schools to 15, with hopes of reaching 20 in the near future, said James McElligott, medical director for telehealth at MUSC.

Read on to learn more about how these programs work, what the reaction has been from parents, nurses and faculty, and what other advances providers see for school-based healthcare.

Taking telemedicine to school: How providers, educators are keeping kids in class