After a successfulÂ telemedicine program pilot Â in 27 schools last year,Â Childrenâ€™s Health will soon deploy telehealthÂ in 57 schools across Dallas, Grayson, Collin and Tarrant counties, Dallas Business Journal reports.Â The school-based telehealth program will include lab consultations, providing nurses the ability to conduct strep and flu tests. The program makes Childrenâ€™s Health the only North Texas health care system providing telemedicine to local schools.
How It Works
The program was funded last year by the Medicaid 1115 waiver, which funds experimental, pilot or demonstration projects that promote Medicaid and CHIP. For the program, school nurses connect with Childrenâ€™s physicians for a virtual patient consultation lastingÂ about 15 to 20 minutes. All Â of the necessary equipment is provided on a system that resembles a hospitalsâ€™ cart of wheels equipped with stethoscopes, ear, nose and throat scopes and derma scopes.Â
The nurse beginsÂ the virtual consultation by taking the childâ€™s vitals before connecting to the physician. Once the virtual consultation starts, theÂ physician will instructÂ the nurse to use the tools provided by the system, which have video and photo capabilities. From Childrenâ€™s Health Pediatric Group clinics, physicians can then diagnose common illnesses and send prescriptions to the childâ€™s preferred pharmacy.Â
â€œMany times, (nursesâ€™) hands have been tied, so their scope is very narrow,â€ said Hall-Barrow,Â senior director of health care innovation and telemedicine to Dallas Business Journal. â€œBut with access to physicians, it makes her say this is eligible for telemedicine.â€
TelehealthÂ Regulatory Hurdles
To overcome the telehealth regulatory hurdles,Â Childrenâ€™s HealthÂ worked with state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and state Sen. Van Taylor to draft and pass House Bill 1878 allowingÂ Childrenâ€™s Health to bill school patients using the telehealth program. The bill took about two years to get approval and goes into effect September 1.Â