Were you aware that advances in technology have also impacted the delivery of medical care? One recent medical development is the provision of school-based telehealth services. Telehealth is defined by HealthIT.gov as “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.” Basically, with telehealth or virtual medical visits, the patient is in one location and uses technology to connect with their doctor, who is in another location.
When you consider the many rural areas throughout New England, school-based telehealth doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Current school-based telehealth services treat asthma, allergies, cough, headache, sore throat, rash, and the common cold. School-based telehealth services also help alleviate access to healthcare issues for many children who experience socioeconomic disparities. Some services now also include mental health care for students.
Although several school-based telehealth models are being piloted, a typical scenario would consist of a student reporting to the school nurse with general symptoms. The nurse would then contact the parent and ask if they consent to a virtual medical visit. If the parent agrees, the school nurse will launch the virtual care platform, and parents have an opportunity to join as well. The virtual pediatrician will conduct the assessment and if necessary, submit a prescription to the student’s pharmacy.
When a child becomes sick, children can miss a significant amount of time from school, and parents must take time off of work to take them to the doctor. However, the convenience and flexibility of school-based telehealth services alleviate these issues. These services are on the rise and there are many New England schools and communities that can benefit from school-based telehealth as these services continue to expand across the country.