What if you didn’t have to leave work to take your child to a doctor’s appointment? What if your child didn’t have to leave school? Learn how Renown TeleHealth at a local middle school is bringing our doctors right to the patients.
Taking a child to the doctor can require some juggling, including time off work and time away from school and other responsibilities. But now there’s another option: TeleHealth at school. We asked Elaine Cudnik, nurse practitioner with Renown Pediatrics, to explain more.
What is telehealth in the schools?
Renown Health partnered with Northern Nevada HOPES and the Community Health Alliance to bring high quality medical care to William O’Brien Middle School through Renown TeleHealth to decrease time away from the learning environment. Telehealth technology is being used to connect students to providers at their practice locations.
O’Brien Middle School is the first in Washoe County to have a telemedicine cart outfitted with medical devices including a digital stethoscope, ENT (ear, nose and throat) scope and high resolution camera, along with secure video conferencing capability that links a medical provider directly to a Renown medical assistant at the school. The goal is to provide healthcare services for children when they need it and at a convenient location.
Why is having this kind of medical care in school so important?
We can think of this as virtual pediatric population health management, in which we focus on prevention, improving access, improving quality and improving healthcare affordability.
Telemedicine enables parents and children to have more family time at home after school, rather than an after-hours appointment or a visit to urgent care or the emergency room. It may also ease the stress and anxiety of children going to an unfamiliar medical office or hospital, rather than the comfort of a familiar school setting.
While the convenience of telemedicine for a sudden illness is a perk for parents, even more valuable is the access to on-site medical care in school to manage any chronic conditions a child may have. In a study from the Journal of Pediatrics, kids with type 1 diabetes who participated in the school-based telemedicine program had better blood sugar control and fewer ER visits than kids who did not have the program available to them. School-based telemedicine allows ongoing monitoring and tailoring of medications specific to each child.
How does a visit at the school work?
Telemedicine technology allows a remote medical provider, along with the on-site medical assistant, to perform a patient exam to treat a student immediately for a number of common or contagious conditions such as pink eye and sore throat, as well as manage chronic conditions for children who use medications on a regular basis.
During the virtual visit, the consulting medical provider gives a real-time diagnosis. The parent can join via their own video-enabled device (such as a smart phone, tablet or laptop) to discuss the diagnosis and even call in any needed prescriptions, effectively skipping a visit to their pediatrician or urgent care.
We hope to grow this program and bring this technology to more area schools in the future.
Learn more Renown’s TeleHealth program at the middle school and other locations throughout the area at Renown.org.