Telehealth is a term that refers to using technology to provide medical care at a distance. It includes directly connecting with patients for audiovisual communication, remote patient monitoring of physiologic and other parameters in their homes or between healthcare facilities.
Telehealth and COVID-19
Telehealth has benefitted society and pediatricians during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, healthcare providers are now advocating to create policies that address children’s unique needs after this extreme event has subsided.
Many telemedicine barriers were lifted temporarily due to the crisis. Still, there must be a long-term solution for payment restrictions so that health care can continue seamlessly in future models of pediatrics without interruption or decline in quality.
AAP Policy on Telehealth
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement on how telehealth can be used to increase patient access. It also advocates for equitable telehealth access and adequate payment coverage. One identified goal is that all children should access quality health care regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.
Another focus is making sure young patients are not excluded from benefits because they happen to live far away from their provider’s office. This would ensure equity with rural populations who benefit more than anyone else through telemedical support networks such as broadband internet connections on school buses.
Telehealth technologies may provide high-quality care to patients in rural areas. However, these technology improvements mustn’t widen health disparities resulting from the digital divide.
Physicians must ensure health care delivery meets quality standards and maintain pediatricians’ status as key stakeholders in the process. According to policy, there will be opportunities to determine evidence-based best practices for children during this new era of healthcare.
Further, it is vital to provide a coordinated and personalized approach for pediatric care. Kids deserve access to continuous, integrated health care that includes both in-person and virtual options as appropriate. The medical home model will likely evolve with technology, but the core component of avoiding fragmented and episodic treatment remains intact.
According to a new policy statement, pediatric health care providers should be compensated for the time and effort they put into virtual visits. While there are costs associated with implementing telehealth technologies, digital healthcare can benefit clinicians and patients by providing more flexibility during doctor’s appointments; it might also help reduce phone expenses from traveling long distances to visit doctors in person.