Telemedicine is by no means a new technology, given that audio-video telecommunication links have been utilized for the provision of medical services since the 1950s. Nonetheless, telemedicine is currently in a phase of rapid growth and evolution. The combination of increasingly affordable and powerful networking, computing, and communication technology, along with the continued nationwide crisis in health care access and costs, has created a "tipping point," whereby telemedicine has progressed from a novel means of practicing medicine to practical tool to help address our nation's health care needs. Telemedicine has also evolved beyond a means of providing care to remote communities to becoming a versatile tool in the delivery of health care in a variety of non-rural settings. Although no one can be everywhere at once, telemedicine allows us to be in more places at once than we've ever been before. The problems of disparities and access to care are even more evident in pediatrics, where subspecialists are fewer in number and more regionalized than adult providers. Numerous successful telemedicine programs across the country have demonstrated the impact that these technologies can have in pediatrics, with many more programs in development. As a versatile means of delivering care, telemedicine can be used at any point during the course of a health care encounter as not only a means of expanding our reach, but also as a means of increasing efficiency. Using telemedicine to provide consultations to community hospitals has been shown to improve quality of care, strengthen the referral base for the consulting facilities, facilitate cost savings, and improve the financial bottom line for both referring and consulting facilities. This review highlights some of the ways in which telemedicine is being used to facilitate timely and effective pediatric care in a variety of hospital settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health