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Pediatric Telehealth in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era and Beyond

Pediatric Telehealth in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era and Beyond

Curfman A, McSwain SD, Chuo J, Yeager-McSwain B, Schinasi DA, Marcin J, Herendeen N, Chung SL, Rheuban K, Olson CA. Pediatric Telehealth in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era and Beyond. Pediatrics. 2021 Sep;148(3):e2020047795. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-047795. Epub 2021 Jul 2. PMID: 34215677; PMCID: PMC8669573.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to an unprecedented demand for health care at a distance, and telehealth (the delivery of patient care using telecommunications technology) became more widespread. Since our 2018 state-of-the-art review assessing the pediatric telehealth landscape, there have been many changes in technology, policy, payment, and physician and patient acceptance of this care model. Clinical best practices in telehealth, on the other hand, have remained unchanged during this time, with the primary difference being the need to implement them at scale.Because of the pandemic, underlying health system weaknesses that have previously challenged telehealth adoption (including inequitable access to care, unsustainable costs in a fee-for-service system, and a lack of quality metrics for novel care delivery modalities) were simultaneously exacerbated. Higher volume use has provided a new appreciation of how patients from underrepresented backgrounds can benefit from or be disadvantaged by the shift toward virtual care. Moving forward, it will be critical to assess which COVID-19 telehealth changes should remain in place or be developed further to ensure children have equitable access to high-quality care.With this review, we aim to (1) depict today's pediatric telehealth practice in an era of digital disruption; (2) describe the people, training, processes, and tools needed for its successful implementation and sustainability; (3) examine health equity implications; and (4) critically review current telehealth policy as well as future policy needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is continuing to develop policy, specific practice tips, training modules, checklists, and other detailed resources, which will be available later in 2021.

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