Telehealth Improving Care for Kids

ATA hosted the Telehealth Capitol Connection Briefing (TCC) “Telehealth and the ABCs of Keeping Kids Covered”, on Capitol Hill, May 16, 2017 to discuss the need for healthcare to be delivered to the home and schools via telehealth.

Neal Neuberger, Senior Consultant for ATA and moderator for the briefing, introduced the panel of experts to talk about the programs in their organizations that are geared to helping children receive the best care while utilizing what telehealth technology can offer today.

M. Narendra Kini MD, CEO of the Miami Children’s Hospital, the parent organization for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, explained how the Telehealth Command Center at Nicklaus has the capability to monitor children wherever they are and whenever they need expert care. The Center also makes their telehealth program “MCH Anywhere®” available for non-emergency pediatric care so that pediatric physicians can connect via telehealth to the child’s home.

He reports, “Today, three schools in the area are providing care for minor illnesses to include colds and flu. A nurse practitioner on site has the capability to use telehealth technology to handle medical situations. So far, 221 students have been seen and 93 percent of parents and students are very satisfied.”

The telehealth center also provides teledentistry using state-of-the-art telehealth equipment to do two way communication between the mobile unit team and dental colleagues at Nicklaus. The program provides dental screenings, assessments, and exams to underserved/underinsured children.

The hospital provides rehabilitation using telehealth to provide consultations between Infant Toddler Developmental Specialists and Pediatric Rehabilitative Health Arts Specialists. So far 107 cases have been seen and treated.

Nicklaus is collaborating with Tyto Care, a telehealth company to conduct remote diagnostic telehealth to kids at home. TycoCare is a handheld remote examination device and telehealth platform that enables the capture of ear, throat, lung, skin, heart, temperature, exam data and then share it with physicians. Now an app is available to enable Tyto Care’s platform to integrate with MCH’s MCH Anywhere®.

Dr. Kini told the attendees, “Awesome progress has been made to use drones to help with emergency medical needs. This enables the use of telemedicine capabilities to be used in areas where even ambulances can’t go such as in the Everglades.”

John Schlitt, President of the School-Based Health Alliance, said, “The benefit to using telemedicine in the schools is to provide access to care in a safe and familiar environment, parents don’t have to take time off of work and schools experience fewer missed days.”

He explained that less than 35 percent of kids with behavioral health problems get help. This situation can happen when children live in low income families, and a shortage of psychologists exists in the community plus a severe shortage of providers and specialists.

Schlitt presented successful models in existence meeting the needs in the schools. The first model, the Bassett Healthcare School Health program in rural New York recently announced that the company swyMed and the Bassett Healthcare Network have joined forces to use video telemedicine within Bassett’s 15 School-Based Health Centers. Today, Bassett’s program also connects to the University of Rochester via teleconferencing.

Schlitt reports additional programs, “The Children’s Health of Dallas School-Based Telehealth Network has expanded its school-based telehealth program to over 98 schools in Dallas. In addition, the University of New Mexico’s telehealth program enables provider-to-provider consultations for behavioral health, and lastly, the Sacramento Twin River School District actively runs their teledentistry program with hygienists and assistants who perform exams using mobile equipment.

Mary Fuska, as Telehealth Operations Manager for Children’s National Health System, told the attendees how their multispecialty telemedicine program is dealing with inpatient and outpatient/home care in Washington D.C. This program enables the hospital to work with advanced video conferencing, VPN/Cloud technology, and is able to provide direct to consumer care.

The hospital’s telemedicine program presently conducts over 16,000 telemedicine consults, and 4,000 medical education conferences, partners in 21 states, 19 countries, and provides home tele-monitoring programs.

According to Tonmoy Sharma, MD CEO for Sovereign Health, “Thirteen percent to 20 percent of U.S children have been diagnosed with a mental disorder which has resulted in treatment for these disorders to be the most costly childhood medical expenditure.”

He adds, “Part of the solution is to use telemedicine in the schools which would greatly help identify at-risk children, track youth outcomes, improve provider capacity, and specifically tailor services to patients’ needs. Using technology can help integrate mental health screenings into routine primary care and pediatric care, enabling at-risk children to be successfully identified.

Summing up the panel discussion, the goals are to emphasize the use of telemedicine for children in school and at home, increase funding for Medicaid, CHIP, and other child-focused healthcare programs, pass legislation to remove barriers to providing home care via telemedicine, find ways to lower costs, integrate behavioral health with primary care for children and adults, and provide reimbursement for opioid addiction treatments.

Go to to watch the briefing video.

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