Straight A’s for Pediatric Telemedicine

November 5, 2013 by InTouch Health

About 20 percent of American kids live in rural communities that often lack the pediatric expertise and equipment found at children’s hospitals in big cities. But recent studies show that they’re able to get topnotch treatment through telemedicine, in a way that benefits both the tertiary center and the rural facility.

Both studies were conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis pediatric telemedicine department. One study, published in the journal Critical Care Medicine, revealed that rural children treated via telemedicine had significantly higher quality-of-care scores than those whose consultations were done by phone or locally. And a second study published last summer in Telemedicine and e-Health shows that children’s hospitals in metro areas can benefit enormously from rural hospitals that have deployed telemedicine. UC-Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento nearly doubled its number of pediatric referrals, which helped build market share, boost hospital revenue and increase professional billing.

When served by telemedicine, parents in rural communities can rest assured that their kids are getting prompt attention from pediatric specialists. In many cases, a perceived emergency can be handled locally so that both parents and kids are spared the time and expense of driving to the city. And it frees up more beds at the children’s hospital for cases requiring transfer.

A number of U.S. cities (like Cleveland, Boston and Los Angeles) already have more than one children’s hospital – and it may soon be commonplace in most metro areas. Encouraged by these new studies, strategic planners at children’s hospitals would be wise to forge more relationships using telemedicine to provide clinical services to  outlying rural and community hospitals. It’s a far more effective way to provide access to specialist care in a large geographic region, builds market share and increases revenue.

Nothing builds brand loyalty better than letting parents quickly know whether their kid’s condition can be treated locally or requires immediate transfer to the children’s hospital. And providing peace of mind is also good for the bottom line.