Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy
An article published recently in JAMA Pediatrics examined associations between a school-based telehealth program and all-cause emergency department visits made by Medicaid enrolled children. Researchers analyzed 2,443,405 child-months of Medicaid claims data, comprised by 23,198 children aged 3 to 17 years living in Williamsburg county, South Carolina. The data was categorized into pre- and post-intervention, with pre-intervention data spanning 2012 to 2014 and post-intervention data between 2015 and 2017. In addition to overall claims data, the research included a subsample of children with asthma, intended to capture associations between children with asthma and the same school-based telehealth program.
Compared to a control group, comprised of claims data from the four surrounding counties, the full sample of data showed no association between the telehealth program and the prevalence of emergency department visits. However a subsample consisting of children with asthma showed that the telehealth program was associated with a reduction of 0.66 percentage points per 100 children per month in ED visits, which is a decrease in ED visits of approximately 21%.
The researchers concluded from these results show that telehealth focused on chronic pediatric diseases could improve health benefits to rural and medically underserved communities, such as those in Williamsburg County. This further confirms results from a 2018 school-based randomized controlled trial study also published in JAMA Pediatrics, done in the Rochester City School District evaluating the effect of a telemedicine program on asthma morbidity among urban children with persistent asthma. The study found that the school-based telemedicine enhanced asthma management (TB-TEAM) program significantly improved symptoms and reduced health care utilization among the children.