Telemedicine consultations with pediatric critical-care medicine physicians significantly improve the quality of care for seriously ill and injured children treated in remote rural emergency rooms (ERs), where pediatricians and pediatric specialists are scarce, according to a study by researchers at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
The study also found that rural ER physicians are more likely to adjust their pediatric patients’ diagnoses and course of treatment after a live, interactive videoconference with a specialist. Parents’ satisfaction and perception of the quality of their child’s care also are significantly improved when consultations are provided using telemedicine, rather than telephone, and aid ER treatment, the study found.
The use of technology to link far-distant practitioners has been steadily increasing in American medicine, particularly as a tool to provide rural and underserved communities with access to specialty physicians. More recently, telemedicine has been used for consultations to ERs, and is particularly recommended for use in the area of stroke care.
Despite the expansion of telemedicine, studies of its effect on the quality of medical care remain scarce, with publications mostly limited to anecdotal reports or issues of technological feasibility and its potential to reduce healthcare costs. The researchers sought to measure the impact of telemedicine consultations compared to other modes of treatment, such as telephone consultations, or treatment without consultations.
Overall, cases involving a telemedicine consultation received significantly higher quality-of-care scores than did those involving a telephone consultation or no consultation. In addition, rural ER physicians were far more likely to change their diagnosis and treatment plans when consultations were provided using telemedicine, rather than telephone. Parents’ satisfaction and perception of the quality of care also were significantly greater when telemedicine was used, compared to telephone guidance.
Source: UC Davis Health System , August 8, 2013
Telehealth Networks for Hospital Services: New Methodologies focuses on and describes different networks that link hospitals and their services to patients outside their territory. This reference work not only focuses on the technology that is integral to the function of a telehealth network, but also its users, and the collaboration that is necessary to be successful.