New research has emerged from a study that indicates telehealth is used frequently in the Pediatric Neurology portion of the healthcare industry. The study was carried out by the Epilepsy Neurogenetics Initiative (ENGIN) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to determine if Pediatric Neurology was still carried out at a frequent level following the easing of healthcare restrictions put in place in the height of the global pandemic. These restrictions saw in person appointments halted to protect clinicians against a high opportunity to catch covid-19 from their patients. As a result, telehealth became necessary for patients and made up most appointments during the pandemic. For the study over 50,000 visits were examined, with just under fifteen thousand visits being made up of telehealth visits. Of these visits, 26,399 were pediatric neurology appointments. The study was conducted from October 2019 to April 2021, which was an extension on their original plans, as researchers wanted to see the trend of telehealth pediatric neurology appointments following the easing of restrictions as opposed to during it.
“Our group has studied telemedicine extensively, and our findings demonstrate how telemedicine has become a standard component of child neurology care for many patients,” said Ingo Helbig, MD, a pediatric neurologist at CHOP, director of the genomic and data science core of CHOP’s Epilepsy Neurogenetics Initiative (ENGIN) and senior author on this study. “Increased use of telemedicine was prompted by a public health emergency, and so we need to make sure, as these new tools for patient care remain prevalent, that we’re continuing to learn about and address disparities in care and optimize access for socially vulnerable families, so that they have the tools necessary should another similar public health crisis occur.”
Overall, it was determined that telehealth visits remained popular following the end of restrictions in 2021. Of the categories assessed, individuals with ADHD and epilepsy were more likely to avail of telehealth than in person appointments with their physician or specialist. In contrast to this, individuals with neuromuscular and movement disorders were less likely to avail of telehealth. Younger individuals were also more likely to take their appointment in person, along with socially vulnerable people.