Telemedicine in the PICU? Parents, Providers Give it High Marks

A stay in the hospital can be an intimidating and lonely experience for a patient of any age. For a child in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), it can be even more challenging, particularly at times when his or her parent can’t physically be there. To that end, as MedPage Today first reported, researchers in one hospital piloted the use of iPads to connect PICU patients with their parents at distant sites. The results, recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that parents and providers alike gave the devices high marks when it came to connecting patients and their parents.

The researchers studied 51 encounters involving 13 patients, along with their families and providers, in a 14-bed PICU. Patients whose parents could not physically be in the hospital with them (typical reasons for this, per the researchers, included work commitments, needing to care for others, and lack of transportation) were able to connect to them via iPad during physicians’ and nurses’ daily rounds. Following these encounters, parents and providers were surveyed about their experiences.

The results? Parent satisfaction was high: “All parents reported that telemedicine encounters had a positive effect on their level of reassurance regarding their child’s care and improved communication with the care team,” the authors explained. Beyond that, providers also gave the use of iPads high marks, noting that they did not find the devices to be particularly disruptive to their work. Above all, despite the study’s small sample size, the researchers are optimistic about the future use of mobile devices in the PICU setting. Their study, they assert, “indicates that remote parent participation in PICU rounds is feasible, enhances parent-provider communication, and offers parents reassurance.”

Click here for the article from MedPage Today on the study of iPads in the PICU.

Click here for the study abstract from the Journal of Pediatrics on the use of iPads in the PICU.

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