Referring to the remote delivery of medical care, telemedicine is already being increasingly used in nursing homes, prisons and locations where access to healthcare is limited. There’s also been an increased use of telemedicine in schools[1] as a supplement to care already available. Here’s a closer look at how telemedicine is being used in schools and what potential benefits this technology offers for children.

Reducing Missed Days of School

One of the most promising benefits of an increased use of telemedicine in schools is the ability to minimize classroom absences. The doctor receiving patient information is able to authorize the school nurse to administer the appropriate treatment as long as parent permission is on file. Immediate access to care has the potential to reduce absences due to health issues.

Setting Up Schools

In order to make telemedicine accessible, a school will need the required equipment and technology.[2] A video monitor and camera will also be necessary along with special electronics, such as a digital stethoscope, to check vital signs, view noses and throats, and transmit images. An attempt is typically made to reach a child’s primary care physician. If this isn’t possible, a report will still be sent to the child’s pediatrician.

Increasing Uses for Telemedicine in Schools

According to a Journal of Pediatrics study, children with diabetes who have access to telemedicine care are able to better manage their blood sugar levels.[3] Telemedicine may also be useful in schools when children experience sports-related injuries or skin rashes and other problems related to dermatology. Some schools are also using telemedicine to provide psychiatric treatments and assessments.[4]

Many states have telehealth emergency laws and regulations in place to allow for the use of this technology. As far as reimbursement goes, 18 states authorize Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine services that are provided in schools, although some states place restrictions on such payments.[5] If you’re a school nurse and your institution doesn’t yet offer telemedicine access, talk to your PTA or school board about the possibility of exploring remote healthcare.

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