New Study: Pediatric Telemedicine Saves Time and Money

Anyone who ever played sports as a child, or is currently the parent of sports-playing children, is probably well aware of the fact that injuries are a pretty common occurrence on the field. While most, of course, tend not to be too significant, more severe injuries—i.e., potential concussions or broken bones—often require parents and children to spend valuable time and money traveling to and visiting sports medicine doctors. But as the results of a new study show, the use of telemedicine in these cases can help to save both time and money. As Clinical Innovation + Technology first reported, study results presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference were decidedly promising. “There’s a constant need to innovate care delivery to demonstrate value to patients and families,” study author Dr. Alfred Atanda Jr., who works as an orthopedic surgeon at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said in a statement accompanying the results. “We were able to do so while saving families time and money.”

Conducted within Delaware-based Nemours Children’s Health System’s pediatric sports medicine practice over the course of about a year, the study looked at the results of 120 patients’ telemedicine visits, comparing them to those of patients who only had in-person consultations. Measures included length of visit, percentage of visit time that was spent with the attending surgeon, and wait time. The verdict? Those who had at least one telemedicine visit experienced shorter waiting times, and saved money—an average of $50—and time on travel (85 miles on average). Notably, during telemedicine visits, the attending surgeon and the patient spent significantly more time (88 percent of the visit) interacting than during in-person visits (15 percent). What’s more, parent satisfaction rates were high: 99 percent of respondents said that they’d recommend that other families use telemedicine, and 98 percent reported that they would want to use it again in the future.

Study author Atanda also noted that the use of telemedicine in pediatric subspecialties—i.e., sports medicine—has rarely been studied. “We know that telemedicine is often looked to for common childhood ailments, like cold and flu, or skin rashes,” he explained in the press release. “But we wanted to look at how telemedicine could benefit patients within a particular specialty such as sports medicine.” If this study’s results are any indication, there’s tremendous potential for its use in the future; Nemours, for its part, has long used telemedicine in a variety of subspecialties with its pediatric patients, and Atanda sees value in other providers and systems doing so, too. “As the health care landscape continues to evolve and the emphasis on value and satisfaction continues to grow, telemedicine may be utilized by providers as a mechanism to keep costs and resource utilization low, and to comply with payor requirements,” he said.

Click here to read the article from Clinical Innovation + Technology on the pediatric telemedicine study.

Click here to read the press release from Nemours on the pediatric telemedicine study.


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