A leading pediatric healthcare system plans to more than double the number of telehealth appointments, going from 1,100 visits in 2018 to 2,500 visits this year.
“Through virtual visits, we are not only saving families time traveling to appointments and taking their kids out of school and work, we are also maximizing our providers’ ability to see more patients, fill in last-minute cancellations and accommodate urgent requests,” says Vandna Mittal, director of digital health services at Stanford Children’s Health.
Stanford offers telemedicine visits as follow-up appointments to patients, including clinic-to-clinic connections in which nurse practitioners at primary care offices link up with a specialty clinic’s doctor, who can use a high-resolution camera and microphone to view and hear patient-clinician interactions.
The clinic-to-clinic telehealth visits cover a range of appointments, such as diagnosing eye problems in premature infants and conducting video electroencephalograms for neurology.
In addition, Stanford provides clinic-to-home telemedicine visits via the health system’s MyChart patient portal, enabling patients and families to connect with their doctors remotely through their own mobile devices.
According to Mittal, these virtual visits are popular with teenage behavioral-health patients who want to keep a close relationship with their mental health provider at Stanford when they go away to college. Stanford’s developmental-behavioral clinic also leverages these visits to observe pediatric patients at home or on the playground, providing a more “natural” environment for evaluations.
Another telehealth offering at Stanford involves clinic-to-school visits, in which physicians have remote connections with patients physically located in school nurse offices. Mittal notes that these visits are especially beneficial for diabetic patients who require ongoing support and blood glucose monitoring.
At Stanford’s Packard Children’s Hospital, on-call doctors in inpatient units are able to evaluate patients in the emergency department using telehealth prior to admission. Specialists leverage the technology in order to make recommendations to ED care teams as to the most appropriate transfer methods for patients.
“Although virtual telehealth visits are not a blanket solution for everyone or every visit, they are instrumental in helping patients and families who require more care or live away from their specialists, without sacrificing that vital connection,” Mittal adds. “Thanks to advances in medicine and science, we are able to care for more children with chronic or serious conditions than ever before, and digital health allows more flexibility and greater access to the best care available.”