When a parent needs their child to be seen by a pediatric medicine expert as part a preventative health plan, a rigid set of steps are generally followed. After filling out questionnaires, presenting insurance information, and submitting a financial affidavit, a parent can finally get to the point of selecting a date and time for their child to be seen.
In normal circumstances, this is often the most challenging part of the entire process. Parents have to consider how far they must travel, make arrangements to get off of work, and many times, have their child miss school. And depending on the popularity of that medical expert, there might only be a few slots available.
Telemedicine is now frequently being offered as an option for parents, healthcare professionals, and patients who have scheduling or physical availability limitations. Here is what that means for pediatric medicine as a whole.
Telemedicine is the ultimate scheduling solution
Due to the way that the U.S. healthcare system is structured, patients realize that they might need to make concessions if they cannot wait to schedule an appointment with their regular doctors.
Of course, in a true emergency situation, going to the ER is strongly suggested.
On the other hand, there are some doctor’s offices that require patients to schedule out all appointments at least four to six months in advance. Having to go to a walk-in clinic or emergency room in the meantime can lead to expensive medical bills and even improper diagnoses in some instances. For parents, this can be a frightening prospect.
Telemedicine is helping to serve as the ultimate scheduling solution as appointments can quickly be slotted in, at both the patient and the doctor’s convenience. A pediatric doctor that might only be able to see two patients an hour in person might be able to consult with more than four via telemedicine.
Diagnosing diseases and ailments with telemedicine
During a medical appointment, healthcare professionals use a combination of methods in order to diagnose patients.
- Patients have their vitals taken and document them in their medical records.
- A patient might then be asked to change into a hospital gown
- The doctor or nurse comes in, examines them, and asks some important questions.
With technology, a pediatric healthcare professional can perform each one of these steps remotely.
- Vitals can be measured with smartphones and peripheral devices.
- Physical exams can be facilitated with web cameras and microphones.
Lastly, and most importantly, telemedicine takes advantage of the fact that medical experts don’t need to physically be next to their patients in order to have a dialogue. For the parent of a sick child, a telemedicine appointment can allow them to get their child diagnosed and on the path to treatment faster than is possible with standard medical appointments.
How the Coronavirus pandemic has catapulted telemedicine to the forefront
In recent months, parents, children, and others have learned that their medical concerns sometimes come second to the greater good of society. Many medical practices not only put temporary moratoriums on new patient registry, they also strictly limited who could be seen and for what reason. In other words, unless you were having a true medical emergency it was likely that your own doctor encouraged you to avoid coming into their office for treatment.
As healthy individuals naturally sought to avoid going to the hospital for non-emergencies, the quickly saw that it was often their only course of action. The novel coronavirus still has no cure and most states are still requiring people to wear face masks in public at all times, but life is slowly and cautiously returning to normal.
Online learning and telemedicine
Medical experts going to school online to complete their degrees is not a new phenomenon, but it is an education option that is being more regularly utilized. Various online pediatric nurse practitioner programs are offered to BSNs, LPNs, and RNs looking to gain more training conveniently.
As students learn all of the advantages of online learning, healthcare professionals are seeing how valuable of a tool telemedicine can be in their arsenals. The Baylor University online pediatric nurse practitioner programs are a great first step for healthcare professionals looking to work in telemedicine, in neonatal intensive care units, and while performing hands-on medical care. A lot of the implementations used in the classroom also carryover in pediatric telemedicine practices.
Realizing the limitations
While telemedicine is being embraced as a practical option for pediatric nurses and doctors, it has to also be realized that it doesn’t work in all instances.
- Sometimes children need to be seen by healthcare professionals in person to be appropriately diagnosed, or in the case of long-term treatments, adequate follow-up appointments.
- Pediatric oncologists cannot perform various specialized tests via telemedicine, just as pediatric dentists can’t perform most services remotely.
- Not all health insurance companies recognize telemedicine appointments as being adequate for treatment either, so each case is going to be different.
Why pediatric nurses and doctors are expanding their services to include telemedicine
In the end, telemedicine can be seen as the first step in patient care or as a last alternative. What pediatric medical experts are doing is having telemedicine be an option that they offer to patients, as not all people are going to easily be able to transport their children for in-person appointments.
Telemedical appointments are more comprehensive than waiting for a doctor to call you back in the middle of the night because your child has developed a mysterious rash. Medical experts feel more comfortable writing out prescriptions when they are able to see their patients and connect via telemedicine as well.
Telemedicine may have been popularized by way of the coronavirus, but it isn’t because of the pandemic it’s going to stick around. Many patients and doctors alike are finding it to be convenient as well as effective. The fact of the matter is that the healthcare community is learning that not all treatment plans require physical interaction. If you need the assistance of a healthcare professional, don’t be afraid to give telemedicine a go!