AAP Committee Supports Telemedicine With Patient-Centered Care

June 30, 2015 in News

The American Academy of Pediatrics says telemedicine is appropriate if it is used in combination with the patient-centered medical home model, according to a policy paper published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, FierceHealthIT reports.

According to FierceHealthIT, the paper is the first on telehealth to come from AAP’s Committee on Pediatric Workforce.

Paper Touts Promise of Telemedicine

In the policy paper, the committee noted that telemedicine services could improve care quality and reduce costs when linked with a PCMH. Further, the committee urged AAP chapters to advocate for the elimination of technological barriers “to extend the reach of and the access to pediatric physicians as they strive to offer care for all children,” according to FierceHealthIT (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 6/29).

To support its opinion, the committee cited studies showing how telemedicine can be assimilated into overall care management and how telemedicine services can increase comprehensive care delivery by bolstering patient-provider communication. In addition, the group noted that telemedicine services can help to make care delivery more efficient through initiatives such as electronic referrals. Further, the committee provided examples of how telemedicine initiatives already are working to improve access to care in some areas (Walker, MedPage Today, 6/29).

Committee Warns About Potential for ‘Fragmented Care’

However, the committee warned that individuals should avoid “fragmented care,” which could stem from patients’ use of third-party providers — such as health clinics — and could disrupt the PCMH model. The paper states, “Use of telemedicine care by virtual health care providers … whose business model is to provide health care services via smartphone, laptop or video-consult kiosk without a previous physician-patient relationship, previous medical history or hands-on physical examination can … undermine the basic principles of the PCMH model” (FierceHealthIT, 6/29). Overall, the group wrote telemedicine services could be disruptive and inefficient if they are not used properly (Allen et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/30).

To help address such issues, the committee said there is a larger need for regulations governing the use of telemedicine. Further, the committee recommended financial incentives and grants be awarded to providers who use telemedicine to bolster care quality and reduce costs (FierceHealthIT, 6/29).

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