Telemedicine and online healthcare consultations are becoming more popular around the world by the day. With its help, metropolitan and rural citizens alike have access to quality care. Telemedicine is not restricted to adults only; telemedicine for children and teens is just as important. Every parent who had to take their sick child to a hospital and wait their turn in line would know the value of care that could be received near instantly. After all, it’s not always possible to request a doctor visit at home, especially in the reality of the world that is still not done with COVID-19.
In the US, over 71 million office visits to address acute problems are accounted for children younger than 15. There is no understating the importance of the ability to provide better care for children and their parents. Via remote communication, specialized doctors can bring their skillset without worrying about the constraints of distance and time and provide their expertise in emergency situations. In less critical calls, outpatient consultations can be provided by a wide range of specialists.
Telemedicine’s success is relative, however. While childcare and pediatrics is a wide and profitable domain to cover for a virtual clinic or healthcare institution, it’s important to have a clear outlook on the problems faced by this particular branch of Telemedicine and know if such an undertaking will be cost-efficient and profitable.
When it comes to certain practices, telehealth services have seen a great increase in use over the last few years, including pediatrics and childcare. Telemedicine has been used in critical care medicine, ophthalmology for retinopathy, prematurity screening, chronic diseases following (diabetes, asthma, etc), psychology, dermatology, and other fields.
Now let’s take a closer look at the barriers and constraints that still prevent Telehealth from gaining wider use across the US (and the world).
These are the problems faced when it comes to acceptance of Telehealth services in the general public, as well as personnel training to provide such services. This issue is more prevalent for healthcare providers, and for a good reason. A virtual clinic (pure virtual clinic or a combination of remote/in-patient services) is an expensive and difficult service to develop. Providers fear that the legal, administrative, technological issues may outweigh the cost-efficiency of providing the service to their patients.
What’s more, the doctors themselves must be accepting of Telehealth practices and prepare to provide them, sometimes on very short notice. Certain doctors may be more accepting of Telehealth practices than others due to the line of work – such as physicians and therapists. Training both for doctors and patients is a difficult issue to overcome, as there is a lot of attrition when it comes to the adoption of new (and still developing technologically and legally) healthcare solutions.
Patients rightfully worry about their healthcare privacy, that the healthcare they’re used to will no longer exist, and that it may be difficult and tiresome to learn how to use Telehealth systems and interfaces.
For older generations (and certain practices, mainly in psychology) the loss of face-to-face contact is deemed a significant issue. Personal contact is important for children, especially during the early stages of development, and it’s an issue a Telehealth provider must always keep in mind and adapt to. Children may also require parental consent before initiating a Telehealth session, and this may not always be available, for instance, in the case when the parent or guardian is absent.
There are also certain criteria to working with children specifically. Doctors and consultants must take measures to engage with children during the session, as they are easily distracted by any other present stimuli. Adolescents may prefer to conduct sessions without the parent by their side, while parents themselves may not to open to this idea. For infants and young children, its important to introduce gamification in order to keep them engaged and active during the session.
By far, this is the largest barrier faced by Telemedicine in every domain. The liability of the Telehealth provider and the practicing doctor can be immense in situations when malpractice or negligence is proven. Such risks can be mitigated with the help of an attorney well versed in the latest issues of Telemedicine laws, state-wide and federal alike.
Liabilities may arise in issues that arise from the physician-patient relationship, roles and communications responsibilities, patient abandonment, liability insurance, the site of a malpractice action, standards of care, and technological failures.
In general, so long as the doctor is cleared to provide healthcare services in the target state, meets the standards of healthcare provision standards (including privacy, security), and the consultation is consented to, there shouldn’t be any major risks that may put the doctor, the Telemedicine provider, or the patient in jeopardy.
This area is a constant work in progress, and the availability of the service depends heavily on the Telehealth provider, the location, and the internet connection quality of both the doctor and the patient.
Whenever the use of electronic devices for Telehealth consultation or emergency care is made, there should be action plans available in order to deal with any potential problems. Such problems include loss of power, loss of connectivity, and various degrees of system failure.
Another great concern is the security of the provided service. Telemedicine systems must be built and operated in compliance with HIPAA standards and/or local requirements.
Is it worth it to develop a custom telehealth solution for childcare?
The answer to this question depends on many contributing factors, such as ROI, sustainability, and the cost of development. Let’s take a short look at every single one.
The benefits of remote telehealth solutions are many. For the telehealth provider, it is the ability to bill directly, gather contract fees, and extramural funding, as well as reducing the need for rented office and emergency department space. The patients can get cost savings in travel, time taken off from work, and added convenience.
The best and most successful telemedicine providers often offer a specialized, narrow service to their patients – such as intensive care, psychological help, radiology, or therapy. The pediatric market has also seen a number of successful players on the market, though they are not many.
A subscription or pay-per-visit options are often available to patients. These are direct billing options that often do not include the submission of claims to an insurer, while it is an option as well.
The costs depend on the scope of the solution. An institution may choose to integrate with an existing telehealth provider and have full capacity to provide their services online, but be subject to any fees or associated costs from the telehealth provider. Alternatively, a custom solution can be built, but the costs will include developer manpower, server rental, certification, solution support, and more.
A business model must be built before any meaningful progress on the project is made. Projects based on grant money are at risk, since requesting additional funds may not meet the criteria for justification. This is critical if the development must take a new course half-way through and does not align with the original plan anymore.
Payment plans contribute greatly to whether the telemedicine service is sustainable or not. With the growing availability of various payment methods and insurance coverage plans, patients are more open to considering the use of telehealth services.
For success, it is important to make sure that the project is maintained and controlled thoroughly, along with its scope and funding range. The organization’s IT staff must take an active role with the integration or implementation of telehealth services and ensure system compatibility and ease of access. Timely reviews of progress and metrics must be observed and met.
Telemedicine is highly useful for pediatrics and childcare. The ability to provide quick care for their young ones is important to any family, and telemedicine solutions can provide this. Thankfully, with the rising availability of the internet, monitoring devices, and more affordable payment plans, Telemedicine is becoming more and more appealing to the general public. Specialists country-wide can also see the benefit in expanding their reach and ability to provide highly skilled services to people in other cities, states, or countries.
This is Telemedicine’s greatest strength: patients can receive care quickly and from almost any location where an internet connection and a compatible device are available. It is certain that’s use will only grow.
Interested in how you can develop your own telemedicine solution for your clinic? Let us know and we’ll provide you with expert consultation. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org