"The comments that are coming back from parents who used it for the first time are telling us 'Wow! I had no idea this could be so convenient,'" Officer says. "You can have a doctor on line in five minutes and they can help you solve your problem from the comfort of your own home."
The survey also found that:
- Dads surveyed were more likely to have already used telemedicine services for themselves or their children (34%), compared to moms (22%).
- A majority of those who have already had an online doctor visit for their child also looked to telemedicine for more immediate care than waiting for an in-office visit (53%) or for an after-hours medical opinion (52%).
- Half of the parents said they were comfortable with trying new remote sensing devices on smartphone for sending vitals or other clinical measures to a doctor, and 29% of that group already had had an online doctor visit for their child. This suggests a pattern of "early adopters" for new technologies in pursuing children's healthcare.
Many parents report that work schedules and time pressures create problems for securing in-office appointments. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that parents spend an average of 30 hours on well-child visits during their child's first five years.
According to Nemours' survey results, parents who have used telemedicine cited convenience, after-hours accessibility, and immediacy as the top three reasons for doing so. Three-out-of-four parents rated the experience as superior to an in-office doctor visit.
Nemours has implemented its CareConnect 24/7 telemedicine throughout its health system with direct-to-consumer care for acute, chronic, and post-surgical appointments, as well as through its partner hospitals, schools, and even cruise ships.
Families can access the Nemours pediatricians through a smartphone, tablet, or computer. When necessary, the physician may order a prescription, using geo-location service on the smartphone or tablet, and send it to the nearest pharmacy.
The biggest speed bumps for the expanded use of telemedicine are beyond the control of providers, Officer says.
"What is hampering the growth at this point is the regulatory and reimbursement environment, from licensing to payer reimbursement," she says.
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.