Teladoc, Cincinnati Children's team up to develop pediatric-specific telehealth platform

expectant mother virtual care
Teladoc Health is teaming up with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to develop a consumer pediatric-specific telehealth platform. (AntonioGuillem/Getty Images)

Direct-to-consumer telemedicine company Teladoc Health is collaborating with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to develop a consumer pediatric-specific telehealth platform.

The telehealth platform is designed for children and their unique needs, the organizations said. Cincinnati Children's is advising Teladoc about pediatric-specific workflows, clinical requirements and the user experience for patients and their families.

“With the increased adoption of consumer telehealth, the time is now for pediatric hospitals to have a platform that is designed specifically to support the unique care needs and workflows they manage,” Alan Roga, M.D., president, hospitals and health systems for Teladoc Health, said in a statement.

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"When it comes to healthcare needs, children are not small adults," he said. "That’s why it is with a great deal of pride along with a sense of responsibility with which we take on this project, and we are committed to continually setting new standards for what’s possible in virtual care around the world."

RELATED: Teladoc CEO says company should be cash flow positive for first time in 2019

Steve Davis, M.D., chief operating officer of Cincinnati Children’s, will lead an interdisciplinary team that will serve in an advisory role to guide the development of the platform’s pediatric clinical care. The collaboration will expand Cincinnati Children’s existing virtual care services through its Center for Telehealth, which was launched in 2013. The health system offers video-based telemedicine clinics, video consults, e-visits, and remote provider case conferences.

Teladoc Heath and Cincinnati Children’s will start developing the platform in the second quarter of this year and plan to have it available to other pediatric hospitals and medical centers in early 2020, the organizations said.

It's part of what's already been a busy year so far for Teladoc as the company has moved forward on a global growth strategy that includes expanding its platform into Canada and its acquisition of Paris-based telemedicine provider MédecinDirect.

Telehealth adoption continues to grow with major telehealth companies reporting double-digit increases in virtual visits. But telehealth platforms were developed with adult patients in mind and industry stakeholders have pointed to the need for pediatric-specific evaluation and guidelines for telehealth.

“Whether we’re treating a child who has a complicated diagnosis or treating and managing more common illness, our pursuit of the best outcomes means that our telehealth system should be tailored to pediatric needs,” Marianne James, senior vice president, information services and CIO, Cincinnati Children’s, said.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of bringing an innovative platform to market that will benefit other hospitals, children and families across the country,” James said.

RELATED: Teladoc expands international business with acquisition of MédecinDirect

A recent study called into question the quality of direct-to-consumer telemedicine services for children specifically with regard to the prescribing of antibiotics. That study, published in Pediatrics, suggested that telehealth may be leading to the overprescribing of antibiotics to children with sniffles and sore throats compared to kids seen via an in-person visit at a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic.

At the same time, clinical guidelines for antibiotic prescriptions were less likely to be followed after telemedicine visits, compared to urgent care or primary care visits, the study found. 

Teladoc has dedicated significant resources to advancing antibiotic stewardship over the last few years, according to company officials, and the company is collaborating with the University of Southern California and Northwestern University on a large-scale, five-year study to assess antibiotic prescribing practices in telehealth.

The five-year project is funded through a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and is expected to set a new precedent in medical literature by adding specific standards for telehealth and virtual care, the organizations said.

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