A new method of keeping kids in school has arrived in the form of telehealth. Technology continues to shape the way children learn and communicate; now, it can also be used to keep them healthy. Normally, when children visit the school nurse, they are either taken out of class for an extended period of time, or sent home. The child’s parents are then responsible for leaving work, making a doctor’s appointment, and spending hours in a waiting room to receive treatment for their child.
The purpose of these telehealth programs is to address children’s needs, while keeping them in school and their parents at work.
Telehealth enables children to be seen by a medical provider at their school. The school nurse helps maneuver equipment, such as high-tech stethoscopes and otoscopes, so that information can be sent to the medical provider electronically and instantaneously. A report is also sent to the child’s regular pediatrician after the visit. When these services are not available, children are often admitted to their local Emergency Department for minor conditions that can be easily treated with telemedicine, such as:
Telehealth providers ask routine questions to children about their recent activities, medical history, and medications. While some conditions will require an in-person examination by a provider, telehealth visits can help pinpoint the issue.
Many of these programs have already been implemented in communities that are medically underserved. Often, families have low-incomes or do not have health insurance. Moreover, some schools do not have funding for school nurses. The purpose of these telehealth programs is to address children’s needs, while keeping them in school and their parents at work. Lack of funding for telemedicine programs in schools has kept it from being implemented everywhere. While sustainable funding has yet to be fully executed, grants and donations have helped get these programs off the ground.
Mental Health and Chronic Diseases:
Undoubtedly, there has been an increase in conditions such as asthma, diabetes, autism, and ADHD in children. Whether this is due to better diagnoses or external factors is debatable, but telehealth can aid in the management of these conditions by providing treatment plans and education tips to children and parents.
Overall, telehealth increases access to acute care, improves management of chronic diseases, and saves time and money by decreasing hospitalizations and office appointments. Healthy children perform better in school, and if the telehealth provider deems them noncontagious, they can return to class within the hour.