Telemedicine increased in popularity amidst the pandemic for a number of reasons, a key one being a reduced risk of contracting the virus. This trend has trickled down to pediatric care. The 2021 State of Pediatric Telemedicine industry survey revealed that 92% of its pediatric physician respondents believe virtual care will remain favored by patients even after the pandemic. This is in stark contrast to pre-pandemic data when less than 10% of pediatricians offered virtual visits; at the time, telemedicine wasn’t an expectation for families. Now, it may even become a permanent fixture in pediatrics for these reasons:
It’s cost- and time-efficient
Face-to-face doctor’s visits may be overwhelming for patients. There’s the business of getting your child physically and mentally ready for an appointment. In some cases where the child is using a wheelchair and other equipment, it could take more time and cost more to get to and from clinics. This becomes especially strenuous for children who need routine check-ups, or for very small, minor concerns.
With telemedicine, an appointment would require no travel time. This effectively cuts down on costs and a lot of time. There’d be no need for logistical planning, which is a great benefit for patients who struggle with mobility. A typical virtual visit takes considerably shorter than your traditional in-office appointment, too. In turn, this also helps your care provider see more patients within the day.
It improves access to care
Between 2008 and 2016, sick visits to the pediatrician were down 24% and overall visits dropped by 14%. A study suggests that some parents may opt out of skipping the usual pediatric sick visit due to reasons such as increasing out-of-pocket costs and lack of available care clinics. However, with the rise of telemedicine, pediatric visits are more convenient and accessible to more families everywhere.
Through telemedicine, more people can access virtual consultations where they can speak to specialists, like pediatric physicians or nurses. Currently, there’s a shortage of such nurses – there are approximately 22 pediatric nurses per 100,000 children. Fortunately, telemedicine is paralleled by the rise of remote learning which is helping address this lack of manpower. Working nurses can upskill through online RN to BSN programs, which give them ample opportunities to specialize in in-demand fields like pediatrics. These comprehensive courses are taught completely online, allowing practitioners to continue working as they pursue further education. Since the curriculums are taught by certified instructors, degrees from these online programs are just as valid as traditional ones. What’s more is that these online programs also train nurses in informatics. This is a valuable special skill in today’s telemedicine arrangements, as there’s now an option for parents to reach nurses for non-urgent concerns. With telemedicine, patients can reach care providers easily, either through phone calls, video conferences, or even live chats.
The child is in their natural environment
Children often get scared of going to the doctor and this can cause anxiety and shifts in mood, not to mention their behavior too. A child that’s stressed can complicate procedures like evaluations and tests. Additionally, children with suppressed immune systems and other such limitations may be exposed to even more risks when they leave the home environment. A key benefit of telemedicine is having a medical consultation without disrupting your child’s daily life. In a previous post, we talk about how valuable it is for a doctor to see a child being their completely authentic self. As the child is more relaxed and at ease, it may be easier to get information from them, which in turn could also lead to more accurate diagnoses.
While telemedicine has been around for a time now, the pandemic definitely pushed its widespread use even further. And children, parents, and care providers alike are now experiencing its many benefits.
Article exclusively written for mickiesmiracles.org
By Alicia Paxton