A group of pediatric health experts believe more research into apps that let parents video-chat clinicians directly from their phones is needed before children receive care over video.
Two recent studies published in the journal Pediatrics suggest that doctors on these direct-to-consumer telemedicine platforms treat patients differently than they would in-person: children are prescribed antibiotics more frequently after direct-to-consumer consultations than after in-person urgent or primary care visits, according to a UPMC study from earlier this year. Another study published last week finds that parents are more likely to report satisfaction with video consultations for respiratory tract infections when their children are prescribed antibiotics.
“The technology is being deployed very rapidly,” said David McSwain, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ telehealth task force. (AAP publishes the Pediatrics journal that included those studies.) “There’s a lot of effort to establish a pediatric telehealth footprint in the market, but at this point the technology is not optimized to do that” in a way that protects children from being overprescribed, he said.
Patients need to know more about guidelines for care, said pediatrician Sue Kressly, an author of AAP’s policy statement on nonemergency acute care. “The general consumer family does not know what appropriate care is,” she said. “Patients come in to get a treatment for whatever illness they’re presenting.”
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When they’re seeing patients in-person, pediatricians reassure and educate parents about safe options — including not prescribing antibiotics at all. But it’s not clear if that happens in direct-to-consumer visits, she said. With more analysis from Mohana Ravindranath.
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Date: August 20, 2019