Telemedicine saves time, money for pediatric patients and families

Pediatric patients and their families using telemedicine for sports medicine appointments are able to save time and money, according to research to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition.

Children playing sports are often injured. Taking them for in-person visits costs time and money for both the family and provider. This study analyzed the potential savings families and providers could have if the visit were conducted through telemedicine.

"There's a constant need to innovate care delivery to demonstrate value to patients and families," said Alfred Atanda Jr., MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in WIlmington, Delaware, and author of the study. "Nemours' tech-savvy care environment provides another way to get patients the care they need—where and when they need it. We were able to do so while saving families time and money."

The study analyzed data from 120 pediatric patients who had at least one telemedicine visit between September 2015 and August 2016. Researchers examined time spent in the clinic, time spent with physicians and wait-time compared to in-person visits.

Results showed the use of telemedicine was well supported, maintained high levels of patient satisfaction and increased time spent with the physicians from 15 percent to 88 percent of visits. Also, 91 percent of families found the telemedicine app easy to download, 98 percent were interested in having another telemedicine visit and 99 percent would recommend the technology to others. Telemedicine was also able to save families an average of $50 in travel costs, 51 minutes in wait and visit time, and saved providers an average of $24 per patient.

"We know that telemedicine is often looked to for common childhood ailments, like cold and flu, or skin rashes. But we wanted to look at how telemedicine could benefit patients within a particular specialty such as sports medicine," said Atanda. "As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve and the emphasis on value and satisfaction continues to grow, telemedicine may be utilized by providers as a mechanism to keep costs and resource utilization low, and to comply with payor requirements."