Physicians Say International Telehealth Program is Beneficial

July 23, 2014 in News

The majority of physicians participating in an international pediatric telehealth program were satisfied with the service and believed it improved patient outcomes, according to a study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health, Healthcare IT News reports (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 7/22).

Study Details

In 2010, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh created an international telemedicine service for pediatric cardiac critical care (Muñoz, Telemedicine and e-Health, July 2014).

For the study, researchers at the hospital reviewed more than 1,000 telehealth consultations conducted through the program at three hospitals in Colombia and one in Mexico between July 2011 and June 2013.

During the consultations, physicians at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh did not have access to patients’ electronic health records, but relevant patient data were provided through a secure database. The consultations were performed in real-time using telehealth hardware.

Following the study period, the researchers sent an anonymous survey to physicians from the Latin American hospitals to gauge the success of the consultations.

Study Findings

Overall, the researchers found that in 23% of the consultations, real-time interventions took place, such as:

  • Adjustment of pacemaker settings;
  • Echocardiography; and
  • Pharmacologic therapy.

In addition, physicians suggested a different diagnosis in 6% of the telehealth consultations.

Meanwhile, the survey found:

  • 96% of respondents were satisfied or highly satisfied with the telehealth services; and
  • 58% reported high ratings for the promptness and time investment by the consulting physicians.

In a news release, Muñoz said, “The use of telemedicine services within pediatric cardiac intensive care units can be used as an assisting technology, allowing more expertise and knowledge to be shared with remote centers in need” (Healthcare IT News, 7/22). He added that he and his colleagues hope to expand their services to improve health care for children worldwide (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 7/22).

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