This was a cohort study with retrospective comparison of 14,780 in-person encounters and 2,589 telehealth encounters including 2,093 audio-video telemedicine and 496 scheduled telephone encounters between 10/1/19 and 4/24/2020. We compared in-person and telehealth encounters for patient demographics and diagnoses. For audio-video telemedicine encounters, we analyzed questionnaire responses addressing provider experience, follow-up plans, technical quality, need for in-person assessment, and parent/caregiver satisfaction. We performed manual reviews of encounters flagged as concerning by providers.

There were no differences in patient age and major ICD10 codes before and after transition. Clinicians considered telemedicine satisfactory in 93% (1200/1286) of encounters and suggested telemedicine as a component for follow-up care in 89% (1144/1286) of encounters. Technical challenges were reported in 40% (519/1314) of encounters. In-person assessment was considered warranted following 5% (65/1285) of encounters. Patients/caregivers indicated interest in telemedicine for future care in 86% (187/217) of encounters. Participation in telemedicine encounters compared to telephone encounters was less frequent amongst patients in racial or ethnic minority groups.

We effectively converted most of our outpatient care to telehealth encounters, including mostly audio-video telemedicine encounters. Providers rated the vast majority of telemedicine encounters to be satisfactory, and only a small proportion of encounters required short-term in-person follow-up. These findings suggest telemedicine is feasible and effective for a large proportion of child neurology care. Additional strategies are needed to ensure equitable telemedicine utilization..

Read the entire article in Neurology here.

CHOP released a press release on the study. You can find it here .

More discussion can be found on the blog Beyond the Ion Channel.