Zack enters the nurse’s office with a fever, a cough, and a sore throat. The nurse swabs Zack’s throat for a rapid strep test, and five minutes later the results come back positive. “I want to make sure there are no further infections, let’s ‘call’ the doctor” the nurse says. In just a few minutes, a doctor appears on the screen of the mobile telehealth cart. “Zack, I hear you are feeling sick today, let’s check your ears and lungs.” The nurse takes out an electronic otoscope from the cart and fastens it to Zack’s ear. After he determines that neither ear is infected, the nurse places a digital stethoscope on Ben's chest so that the doctor can listen to his heart and lungs. "It's definitely strep, but nothing else – I'll call in a prescription." Thanks to the use of telemedicine, Zack is quickly diagnosed, and a treatment protocol is set in place without the need of a doctor’s office visit that inconveniences Zack, his parent, and the school’s medical professional.
Telemedicine can be very valuable in schools as it provides immediate and specialized medical attention to students. The medical support offered through the CareClix platform ranges from an ear, nose, and throat exams to psychiatric and orthopedic consultations. CareClix successfully launched our telemedicine platform throughout the Howard County School System (Maryland’s first in-school telemedicine program) with support from providers based at the Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland hospitals. This telemedicine program reduced the percentage of students unnecessarily sent home from 15 percent to less than three percent. By offering telemedicine to Howard County schools, CareClix managed to decrease emergency visits, better manage chronic conditions, and decrease their school absences.
Our results align with other research. Health-e-Access, a telemedicine program based in Rochester, New York, looked at 2006 data to track pediatric visits to the largest emergency department in the city. After classifying visits into three categories, based on if telemedicine would have managed the patient’s condition, they found that 28 percent of visits would have been easily managed in a virtual visit. By number of visits, they calculated that the number of ED visits would have been 12,000 fewer.1 In a study designed to see the effect of telemedicine on pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, the authors found significant improvements in A1c levels in the first six months. These same patients also maintained those levels in the following few months, all contributing to a decrease in avoidable hospital and ED visits.2
As referenced previously, the capabilities of telemedicine are extensive. The CareClix platform is built to adapt to the use case most relevant to our partners. For schools and youth organizations, telemedicine could bring immediate benefits to the management of children with sports injuries. Having immediate access to an orthopedist makes it possible to remotely examine an injured player and make recommendations for treatment. Using video conferencing, the doctor can examine the player at the time of injury, monitor their recovery, and follow-up with the patient during rehabilitation. This immediate access to orthopedist aids in faster diagnosis and recovery. Students may also receive education that could prevent further injuries.
We want our partners to see telemedicine as a natural and more convenient extension of care. Through our relationship with Howard County School System, we understand how impactful telemedicine can be within the school environment. Please contact us if you have any questions about our prior experience or how CareClix can be implemented in your community.
Thanks to Padideh Nikouei and Jeremy Gottlich for their support in writing this blog post.