Virtual primary care (VPC) can offer an effective and convenient alternative to traditional in-office care for children, especially when coupled with novel communication technology. We have witnessed the positive effects of our virtual care services on the lives of our patients — adults and children.
Effectiveness of Virtual Primary Care in Complex Pediatrics
We’re delighted to see a growing body of research showing that telemedicine care is as good as in-person care. VPC visits are effective in screening, assessment, and decision-making for nearly all common childhood ailments, according to research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting.
In a new study in Pediatrics, researchers found that Virtual Primary Care substantially improved clinical outcomes and reduced costs for comprehensive care of medically complex children. The findings come from a clinical trial of 422 medically complex children. Half of the trial participants had comprehensive care alone — experienced PCPs, 24/7 phone access, same-day in-clinic illness care on weekdays, and hospital consults when inpatient — while the rest had that same comprehensive care plus access to audio-video telemedicine visits with their PCPs.
Benefits of Virtual care over traditional visits:
- Timely clinical visits can help improve outcomes for children with complex needs.
- Virtual visits can be more convenient for parents and caregivers of children with complex conditions.
- According to research, an average time savings of 30 minutes— hence another benefit over traditional methods.
Notably, at first, parents often declined telemedicine visits, and the PCPs were skeptical. Moreover, they thought VPC would not add many benefits to comprehensive care. Despite that initial resistance to virtual care, and with encouragement and support, virtual care utilization increased in the cohort with telemedicine access.
Hence, these were the ultimate results shown when comprehensive care and telemedicine access are compared. It had an average of four or fewer days of care outside of the home per year. It showed reduced rates of serious illness. Fewer hospital admissions and pediatric ICU admissions than the group with comprehensive care alone. Remarkably, these improved clinical outcomes came with an average reduction in the health system. The costs of $7,563 per year per child, and the setup costs for telemedicine patients were just $308.
Sources: Telemedicine for Children With Medical Complexity: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Pediatrics