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The Use and Benefits of Telemedicine in Elementary and High Schools

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Telemedicine, one of many growing uses of information technology, has made it possible to bring patients and medical services together through online video sessions. Both the doctor and patient can see, hear, and speak to each other regardless of the distance between them. There seems to be no end to the fields where telehealth is being applied to bring healthcare services to all communities. And nowhere is the need greater than in providing quality and timely telehealthcare for children.
 
Children spend five days a week, six to eight hours a day at school. It is a fitting environment for using telehealth applications, such as telemedicine or telepsychiatry. Today's physicians are diagnosing more children with chronic medical conditions, neurological, mental, and behavioral disorders. The school nurse has always been aware of such conditions but now, with telemedicine and telepsychiatry solutions available, communication between the nurse, physician, and other pertinent individuals is much quicker with no reduction in efficiency.
 
Examples of the benefits schools receive using telehealth technology
  • Telepsychiatric services provided through a university's mental health initiative connecting a psychiatrist and a school located 200 miles away. 
  • Linking telehealth instruments and cameras hooked up to assess a child's health. The data is then uploaded to their primary care physician for evaluation. 
  • Care of students involved in high school sports. Having immediate access to a sports medicine orthopedist makes it possible to remotely examine an injured player and make recommendations for treatment.  The doctor may videoconference with the player at the time of the injury, during recovery, before and after rehabilitation. This patient and doctor interaction provides an opportunity for education on injury related symptoms and recovery.
Benefits of telemedicine for doctors
  • Videoconferencing provides clear images and audio contact.
  • Patients needing urgent care get it quicker by avoiding the initial physician office visit.
  • CloudVisit telemedicine assures a secure, HIPAA-compliant connection with patient.
  • Less travel time and associated costs.
  • Fewer office interruptions caused by unanticipated emergency room visits.
  • Patients are more compliant.
  • Higher satisfaction rates by patients and parents for physician services and for the telemedicine and telepsychiatry solutions.
Benefits of telemedicine for school-age patients and parents
  • Less traumatic experience and quick treatment.
  • Parents do not lose time at work and associated pay reductions.
  • Parents appreciate attention to care and the pharmacy's medication drop-off at the school.
  • Patients and parents have fewer bills and involvement with a series of physicians when one doctor can follow the illness or injury on his/her own.
  • Insurance approvals are quicker.
  • Insurance coverage is improving.
 
There is no area which concerns a parent more than the care and safety of their children. Gaining the approval of the parents for using telemedicine in the form of online video sessions and patient information being sent across an Internet connection is a considerable hurdle. However, parents have been consistently positive about the experience, citing:
  • It eased the family's burden with the care of a sick child.
  • It is convenient, alleviating the interruption in their work schedule.
  • It eliminates the time taken from work, especially when they are not paid for lost hours.
  • It avoids travel time and costs.
  • They trusted the telemedicine or telepsychiatric solutions once they became familiar with them.
The benefits of secure telemedicine and telepsychiatry solutions have not been lost on the federal and state governments.  Telehealth initiatives have been mandated in a number of states and, as studies continue to show patient satisfaction and the overall success of telemedicine to ease the burden of fewer physicians, especially psychiatrists, more states will move in this direction.

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