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Pediatrics. 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 1):1-6.

Using telemedicine to provide pediatric subspecialty care to children with special health care needs in an underserved rural community.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Davis, USA. jpmarcin@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

For children with special health care needs (CSHCN) that live in rural, medically underserved communities, obtaining subspecialty care is a challenge. Telemedicine is a means of improving access to these children by addressing rural physician shortages and geographic barriers. This article reports a medical-needs assessment of parents/guardians with CSHCN and the status of a telemedicine program for CSHCN as well as the results of parent/guardian and local provider satisfaction with the telemedicine program.

DESIGN:

We report the results of a pretelemedicine medical-needs survey conducted in March 1999 by using a convenience sample of CSHCN living in a rural, medically underserved community located 90 miles north of the University of California Davis Children's Hospital (Davis, CA). In April 1999, a telemedicine program was initiated to provide consultations to CSHCN and has continued since. We also report the parent/guardian's perceptions of the appropriateness and quality of telemedicine consultations and the local provider's satisfaction with telemedicine consultations completed from April 1999 to April 2002.

RESULTS:

The pretelemedicine medical-needs assessment demonstrated several barriers in access to subspecialty care including traveling >1 hour for appointments (86% of parents/guardians), missing work for appointments (96% of working parents/guardians), and frequently relying on emergency department services and/or self-regulation of their child's medications. From April 1999 to April 2002, 130 telemedicine consultations were completed on 55 CSHCN. Overall, satisfaction was very high. All the parents/guardians rated satisfaction with telemedicine care as either "excellent" or "very good," and all but 2 of the rural providers' surveys reported satisfaction with telemedicine as "excellent" or "very good." The frequency of telemedicine consultations has increased with time.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pediatric subspecialty telemedicine consultations can be provided to CSHCN living in a rural, medically underserved community with high satisfaction among local providers and parents/guardians. Telemedicine should be considered as a means of facilitating care to CSHCN that, relative to the customary delivery of health care, is more accessible, family-centered, and coordinated among patients and their health care providers.

PMID:
14702439
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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