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Telemed J E Health. 2010 Jun;16(5):533-42. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2009.0138.

Telemedicine in urban and suburban childcare and elementary schools lightens family burdens.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.



Acute illness challenges all families with young children. The Health-e-Access Telemedicine Network in Rochester, NY, has enabled >7,000 telemedicine visits since 2001 among children in childcare or elementary schools, predominantly from Rochester's inner city. Large reductions in illness-related absence and emergency department use among Health-e-Access participants have occurred.


The study was aimed to assess parent perception of telemedicine as a means to reduce burdens associated with childhood illness.


A total of 800 parents were surveyed before (578) or after (318) a child had at least one Health-e-Access visit. Queries addressed access to healthcare, conflicts between work/school and child's care during illness, and concerns and likes about telemedicine. Perceptions were elicited through open-ended and direct queries.


Among all respondents, 16% had high-school education and 25% had a college education. Race/ethnicity of the respondents included black (43.6%), Hispanic (22.9%), white (30.0%), and other (3.5%). All identified a primary care practice as a source for well childcare. Most (58%) had given antipyretics to their child to avoid being called by childcare or elementary school staff about illness. Likert scale interview items addressing quality of care elicited low levels of worry or concern. Worry scores trended lower after experience. Among 532 comments about Health-e-Access elicited through open-ended probes, positive ones (likes) predominated (84.6%). Likes most commonly included convenience/time saved (33.6% of all comments), parent stayed at work (13.5%), drug delivered to child site (7.1%) or called ahead to pharmacy (4.9%), and confidence in care (2.3%). Negative responses (concerns) totaled 15.4% of comments and most commonly included reliability of diagnosis (2.6%), technical problems (1.3%), and preference for in-person care (0.8%).


Health-e-Access was well accepted by a substantial, diverse group of parents despite unfamiliarity with this approach to care. Convenience and convenience-related experience dominated perceptions. This model enables service beyond that mandated by payers and beyond that generally provided by medical practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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