The Benefits of Virtual Pediatric Care
How Telehealth Can Reduce Costs and Improve the Quality of Pediatric Care
Studies show 86.3% of children from ages 5 to 11 are in excellent or very good health, but around 4.3% of children do not have access to regular healthcare. General pediatricians provide the majority of care for children, but for some families, this may not be enough.
InTouch Health partners with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, a non-profit, independent children’s hospital serving Missouri, Kansas, and the surrounding region, to expand access to specialty care services among children. Learn more about this partnership and what it says about the future of pediatrics.
Increasing Access to Pediatric Care in Rural Communities
Children generally receive the care they need, but long travel and wait times can leave some children on the sidelines of healthcare, especially in rural areas. Children’s Mercy Kansas City is one of the top-performing children’s hospitals in the country, but the facility often accepts patients across the tri-state area, including those from Missouri, Kansas, and even southern Iowa and Nebraska. Caring for so many patients across such an expansive territory soon became a challenge for Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Many patients were having trouble coming in for an appointment. Children often had to take time out of school to see a specialist while their parents or guardian drove them across state lines, which usually meant taking time off work.
Care providers were also having trouble traveling to rural communities to provide care inside the home. Some specialists couldn’t afford to be away from the office for long periods of time as they care for individual patients across the region. Nearly 10 million children live close to 60 miles from a pediatric surgeon, which can interrupt the continuity of care. Children may miss out on everyday experiences and their education if they regularly have to commute long distances to see their care provider.
The administrators of Children’s Mercy Kansas City also wanted to reduce the price of pediatric specialty care services, so more patients could afford this level of care. This meant improving efficiency, reducing the average patient length of stay and readmission rates, and increasing patient-provider communication.
The InTouch Health Solution
Administrators for Children’s Mercy Kansas City decided to invest in telehealth as a way to reduce wait and travel times for younger patients. Yet, getting a pediatric telehealth program off the ground proved challenging. Administrators needed physicians to adopt this technology in order to recoup their investment. They also needed to make sure patients felt comfortable using it. The technology needed to have an intuitive interface that both children and their guardians could easily understand, clear video and audio, and a reliable internet connection.
Children’s Mercy Kansas City offers a wide range of specialty pediatric services, such as nutrition, genetics, developmental and behavioral health, and many more, so the telehealth system needed to be as flexible as it was easy to use. The hospital eventually decided to break up its services into a series of sub-specialty programs. Each department could then customize its own telehealth system in a way that makes sense for providers and their patients.
Children’s Mercy Kansas City decided to partner with InTouch Health, one of the leading virtual care development companies in the country, due to the organization’s reputation for helping healthcare facilities of all sizes tackle specific challenges.
To discover the success of Children’s Mercy Kansas City’s pediatric telehealth program, read the full case study here.