Are Teledoctors a Good Option for Parents and Kids?
Although telemedicine may sound like a futuristic option for treating your children when they are experiencing health issues, teledoctors have actually been around for many years. It is certainly an option that parents should educate themselves on as it can be a godsend for many of the reasons why we would consider taking our kids to the doctor. Although it’s not without limitations, telemedicine can be an excellent option that can make the lives of both parents and children much easier.
What is telemedicine?
According to the World Health Organization, telemedicine is broadly defined as the delivery of health care services at a distance using electronic means for the diagnosis of treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, education of health care providers to improve health. These days, with the prevalence of devices to access the internet and the consistent speed of internet access available, people are typically communicating with teledoctors via video chat. This means that all you really need from an equipment standpoint to access a teledoctor is a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
What are the benefits of telemedicine for parents?
Skip the waiting room.
There is nothing worse than trying to get a sick kid and her siblings to sit patiently in the waiting room of a doctor’s office when you are worrying about your child’s health. Of course, there’s also the major factor of exposing your kids to more germs as they sit in a waiting room of people who are ill and potentially contagious. Telemedicine allows you to skip the waiting room experience altogether.
Teledoctors are much more accessible.
Imagine having a doctor right there to speak with you and see your child on video chat whenever you need her. Many telemedicine services like this one are open 365 days a year. That includes weekends and holidays. This option would cut down on many urgent care and emergency room visits which can also carry high deductibles from your insurance company and save you the extreme stress that comes along with having to take a sick child into the hospital to get some medical attention.
As Cecelia P., a mom of four kids, shared about her own experiences using telemedicine for her family, “Telemedicine is like having a family doctor living in your house, 24/7! Who wants to sit in an ER or urgent care waiting room for hours with a sick or vomiting child? The convenience of having a telemedicine doctor at my fingertips has been a lifesaver for me, especially when my husband is out of town, and I have another child who is sound asleep!” The convenience factor for families is a huge benefit.
What are some reasons parents might use a teledoctor for their families?
Many of the most common reasons parents take their children in for a doctor’s visit are the same reasons why they might utilize telemedicine. Examples are cold, flu, rashes, pinkeye, allergies, and follow-up visits. Telemedicine can also be extremely helpful for issues related to mental health and anxiety. When a child is having a problem in this area, talking to a doctor from a safe space and the comfort of her own home can be a major plus. In addition, teledoctors can be helpful from an education standpoint. If you are struggling with teaching your child to use an inhaler or eat a properly balanced diet or potty train, a quick telemedicine appointment can come in very handy.
How is telemedicine currently helping children around the country?
Telemedicine has had amazing benefits for rural areas where long drives and a lack of specialists can make getting the care families need very difficult. As stated in this article from Becker’s Hospital Review, one-fifth of Americans live in areas that have physician and healthcare specialist shortages. This may feel like an insurmountable challenge to parents with ill children in rural areas.
The teledoctor approach has even been taken on by schools as seen in this study describing how telemedicine has transformed in-school health care in a rural Tennessee school district. Over the past eight years of using telemedicine, this large school district has reduced absences, taught families how to be more proactive about their health, and gone five years without a school closure due to seasonal flu.
What are the limitations of telemedicine?
Telemedicine should not take the place of having a pediatrician or taking your children to their annual well visits. Good teledoctors work with pediatricians if they are not your actual pediatrician having a video chat appointment with you. Also, true emergencies and life-threatening matters should always be brought directly to an emergency room or require an immediate call to 911. Lastly, there is something about the personal touch that comes with a doctor office visit. Telemedicine should not routinely replace in person visits with your doctor.
Overall, telemedicine is a very helpful option for parents and families. It provides convenience and the option for parents to be proactive about their children’s health on an increased level.