Woman looking at iPad with her baby

Virtual Healthcare for Toddlers and Children: How Telehealth Helps the Whole Family

Kids can make life busier in the best ways. But this busyness can make it challenging to schedule necessary doctor appointments. To make things even tougher, toddlers are often scared of the doctor, especially when they pick up on their parents’ anxiety. 

Cue virtual healthcare. 

The rise of telehealth companies opens up new possibilities for busy parents. Now, it’s possible to fit routine health visits into your schedule. Still skeptical? We’ve got the information on healthcare for toddlers and children to ease your mind. 

 

Why kids need doctor’s exams too 

As a parent, you know that children require countless exams. These checkups are especially important during their crucial development phases. From newborn to toddler, it seems like your kids need to have a checkup every month. Between checking your child’s weight, eating habits, immunizations, and social cues, it’s no wonder these appointments are plentiful and necessary. 

These well-child visits are essential to make sure your child is growing and developing normally, “especially if your child is not reaching important milestones.” Typically, well-baby and well-child visits last about twenty minutes. During this visit, your doctor asks questions about social and emotional development and answers questions about nutrition and activity. 

The visits usually take place with a pediatrician or a family physician who treats patients of all ages. Because of the frequency of these visits, it’s also important to choose a doctor that fits well and makes you and your child feel comfortable. 

 

Virtual healthcare for kids 

Whether you are on your first or fifth child, the idea of so many healthcare visits for your little one might be daunting. Luckily, virtual healthcare offers an alternative. With companies like Lumeca offering on-demand care, telemedicine is a convenient option for parents and their children. 

Telehealth eliminates the commute, wait time, tantrums, and even the germs you and your children experience in a traditional office. Plus, in Canada, “the average wait time for a new patient in a big city…is now 29 days.” This increased wait time is in part due to a decrease in primary care doctors and daily patient quotes capped at 16 to 25 per day. Between your child’s crucial appointments, and those that you might need as well, waiting almost a month to see a doctor is not the best use of your time. 

Telehealth helps patients address problems when they occur. Plus, schools are now starting to adopt virtual healthcare for children. Across the US, schools have begun offering telemedicine to make sure kids get the treatment they need and “get back to class with less interruption.” 

 

A rural solution 

For children in rural locations—often known as healthcare deserts—telehealth helps kids access care. Because of the low population density in much of Canada, hospitals and practices in these remote areas “are not accessible 24/7 due to lack of personnel, in particular doctors and surgeons.” Most Canadians in rural areas have to travel to urban centers for quality care for them and their children.  

Let’s say your child is four months old. She has been doing great up until now, but you’re concerned she is not meeting her developmental goals properly. Since you live rurally, it would take a while to schedule and plan a trip to the pediatrician. Plus you can’t afford to take that much time off work. With telehealth, you can schedule your child’s appointment at any time to make sure she gets care when she needs it most. 

Telehealth in rural populations can help with chronic specialty care, spotting and treating rare conditions, general visits, increasing patient-doctor trust, and can help you avoid unnecessary office and emergency department visits. A recent study found that patients in rural communities had reduced travel costs and lost wages and “specific e-health systems to enhance patient and family needs.” 

 

How can the whole family benefit? 

Even if you do not live in a rural population, planning your schedule is hard enough with school and after-school activities. A 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada surveyed more than 25,000 Canadians on their work-life balance. The results revealed that two-thirds of the sample worked more than 45 hours a week, which was a 50 percent increase from twenty years ago. Moreover, with family- versus work responsibilities, the survey found the “workplace responsibilities took a heavier toll and were more likely to eat into family duties than vice versa.”

And somehow you have to fit in time to eat, exercise, and have a little me time as a parent. People are busier than ever, and it often gets in the way of family duties, like taking their children to the doctor. But telehealth fits in with anyone’s schedule. Doctors are available 24 hours a day. If you wanted, you could schedule an appointment for your child between school and ballet. And one for you at midnight. 

Telehealth offers a great option as healthcare for toddlers and children. But parents can also use the services to increase their own health and wellness. The family plans that companies like Lumeca offer, give parents an affordable, convenient option to address all their needs. 

 

Busy schedules solved

The Senior VP and Chief Strategy Integration for Nemours, Gina Altieri, put it this way: “As parents look to raise children with accessible and evidence-based health care, telemedicine can be a convenient and high-quality option for busy families.” 

A Nemours study found that parents’ use of virtual health visits increased by 125 percent. It also found that parents were most likely to use telehealth to address cold and flu, pink eye, rashes, and well-child visits. Not surprisingly, parents’ busy schedules were a significant factor in switching to telemedicine. A Medisys virtual health study found that “virtual care is most appealing to parents and caregivers.” Those surveyed revealed the most prominent benefits are care during weekends and late nights, avoiding wait times, less missed time at work, and less stress. 

 

Virtual healthcare’s peace of mind 

For parents, getting efficient care for their child is often the highest priority. Especially for new parents, every little thing can feel like an emergency. With telehealth, you can talk to a doctor when the baby hiccups weird at 3 AM without having to rush to the ER.

This peace of mind is priceless. 

Additionally, for expecting women, telehealth is a great prenatal and perinatal option. It is a family-centric model that ensures “the goals of prenatal care (detection, management, and amelioration of complication when they arise) remain a priority.” The takeaway from these case studies is, from before birth and beyond, telehealth offers peace of mind for parents with improved care and reduced stress

 

Especially for new parents

Virtual healthcare benefits users of any age and is an especially beneficial option for new parents. A 2016 case study looked at a rural Texas hospital that began integrating telehealth for its newborns. The hospital set up web cameras in the neonatal intensive care unit that connected with specialists at the much larger Cook’s Children’s Medical Center. The cameras were mobile and able to move anywhere in the hospital to give these newborns immediate, expert care. 

Due to their level of expertise, pediatric specialists are in much demand, and more likely to be found in larger health systems and population centers.” A similar study in Sweden measured the use of telemedicine after discharge from a neonatal care unit. The results showed “web page, and video calls decreased the number of emergency visits to the hospital” and made the parents “highly satisfied” with the care. 

 

Never forget a record

Another benefit of having a telehealth company backing you up is the instant access to medical records, vaccinations, documented allergies, and past ailments. The electronic health record (EHR) system is a large part of telemedicine’s integration with primary caregivers and pediatricians. 

Telehealth uses EHR to keep meticulous records for patients that they can access at any time. The use of this system “improves patient outcomes and patient/provider communication.” Electronic records also reduce prescribing errors and allow for comprehensive patient histories. 

For a company like Lumeca, electronic records give you access to your and your child’s records, any time that you need them. Telehealth companies often work in conjunction with your general practitioner or your child’s pediatrician, so that care is well-rounded for the patient. At Lumeca, we can even help by writing sick notes for school or work when applicable

But what about your privacy? Electronic medical records of all kinds fall under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The PIPEDA is in place to protect individual privacy and promote “public awareness and understanding of privacy issues.” 

 

What to look for in a virtual healthcare company 

When looking for a telehealth company for you and your children, it’s worth asking questions to make sure it’s the right fit. Healthychildren.org offers a comprehensive list of considerations to make sure your child is well cared for. 

Is the company trained to treat children?

Do your research and make sure the company you choose has licensed medical professionals, including pediatricians, to serve your family’s needs better.

Is the visit secure and private?

Privacy is an integral part of feeling safe. Only choose a telehealth company that communicates in secure and private ways. Always have an adult present during a child’s telehealth appointment. 

Do the providers perform the necessary tests and exams?

Make sure the tools used are appropriate and that the practitioner performs the correct tests and exams to give your child the care he or she needs. These include testing hearing, vision, oral health, and growth.  

Do they know when to refer you to an in-person visit?

Telehealth’s benefits are countless. But it is also essential to make sure your practitioner knows when the issue at hand requires an in-person visit.  

Healthcare for children can be time-consuming. But it’s crucial to follow up on your child’s progress and health as they grow. Telehealth offers a solution for busy parents and kids of any age. As with any traditional healthcare, it is up to the parent or guardian to choose the best system for their child’s needs.    

 

Set them up for success 

Telehealth is making it possible for children and their parents to have better access to healthcare. By creating an appointment when it suits them, parents can fit in care for their toddlers and young children without missing work. Companies like Lumeca offer solutions for the entire family with licensed pediatricians to give parents peace of mind, any time. After all, who wouldn’t want professional and capable care for their kids at the click of a button?