Enhancing Access to Care With Telemedicine

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has made great strides in telemedicine, breaking down the barriers of time and distance to bring pediatric subspecialty care to more patients than ever before using technological innovations. Specialized equipment allows doctors at our hospital in Lawrenceville to hear a patient’s heartbeat, view x-rays, and share information in real time with patient families at seven regional outpatient telemedicine locations.

Our commitment to enhancing access to pediatric care with telemedicine doesn’t stop there; recently Children’s led a study, published in Telemedicine and e-Health (Oct. 2017), that provides insight into family perspectives on telemedicine. We knew that telemedicine helps families overcome difficulties with traditional doctor visits, including long wait times to see a limited number of specialists and long distances to travel for subspecialty care. We wanted to explore ways to develop telemedicine services that are even more responsive to patient’s interests and needs.

Suggestions from patient families included the use of telemedicine for pre-visit triage to schedule the patient with the correct subspecialist and with the appropriate level of urgency; and communication with subspecialists after in-person visits for follow-up questions, care coordination, and to discuss changes in health status. Same-day scheduling options, continuity of care with trusted providers, and clear guidelines on when to use telemedicine were also important to study participants.

While we continue to work on new and effective ways to advance telemedicine, you can learn more about our current program at www.CHP.edu/telemedicine.