Expansion of telehealth programs to schools can address the health needs of children

Health and Wellness Informatics News

A Missouri-based pilot telehealth program has decreased the absences. Also, it had successfully educated the community about the benefits of telehealth technologies.

The rural communities across Las Vegas have struggled a lot to maintain the cases to quality healthcare during the pandemic. But some areas have overlooked the demographics of children. Especially those who are living in remote areas are more likely to rely upon CHIP and Medicaid programs. Treating children in those areas was quite challenging. But a district in Missouri has found an effective strategy with the establishment of school telehealth programs.

Rose Ghattas, the RN health coordinator of Blessing Health System, talked about her efforts during HIMSS21. She spoke her words at the Global Health Conference Exhibition session for ” Piloting a School Telehealth Program in a Rural Society”. Joseph DeVivo, the president at Teladoc Health, co-presented that session.

When Blessing first opted for the implementation of the telehealth program, the school district had 11000 students. The program was very attractive as the local health care providers had easy access to the school.  It also focused on the need of the students to go to the hospital in person along with virtual visits.

This has made telehealth programs a hybrid model where the school nurses can have the connection to the students with health complaints from local providers. This process has embedded the school nurses. They wanted to make the nurses feel the importance of this process to make the program successful.

Earlier during the implementation process. Ghattas, Teladoc, and Blessing team needed to ensure the reliability and flexibility of the technology. Google customer support is also much necessary here. Also, it required the upgrade of the school WiFi systems.

To make this program work, everyone needed to ensure patient loyalty. They have offered registration packets online through mail or in-school offices. At the same time, it has improved their ability to opt-in or out of the program. Parents also got the chance to contact each other at each encounter. They also launched a robust marketing campaign.

There were obstacles through connectivity issues. Also, there was a learning curve to understand how to use all the equipment. But those challenges have offered many lessons. In the first year, 80% of students opted for it. It was pretty good for a community that had no idea about telehealth. They have successfully prevented absences per week.

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