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Assessing the potential for virtualizable care in the pediatric emergency department

HumanInsight Assessing the potential for virtualizable care in the pediatric emergency department

J Telemed Telecare. 2022 Nov 20:1357633X221133415. doi: 10.1177/1357633X221133415. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: There is increasing interest for patient-to-provider telemedicine in pediatric acute care. The suitability of telemedicine (virtualizability) for visits in this setting has not been formally assessed. We estimated the proportion of in-person pediatric emergency department (PED) visits that were potentially virtualizable, and identified factors associated with virtualizable care.

METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of in-person visits at the PED of a Canadian tertiary pediatric hospital (02/2018-12/2019). Three definitions of virtualizable care were developed: (1) a definition based on "resource use" classifying visits as virtualizable if they resulted in a home discharge, no diagnostic testing, and no return visit within 72 h; (2) a "diagnostic definition" based on primary ED diagnosis; and (3) a stringent "combined definition" by which visits were classified as virtualizable if they met both the resource use and diagnostic definitions. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with telemedicine suitability.

RESULTS: There were 130,535 eligible visits from 80,727 individual patients during the study period. Using the most stringent combined definition of telemedicine suitability, 37.9% (95% confidence interval (CI) 37.6%-38.2%) of in-person visits were virtualizable. Overnight visits (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.16-1.37), non-Canadian citizenship (aOR 1.10-1.18), ethnocultural vulnerability (aOR 1.14-1.22), and a consultation for head trauma (aOR 3.50-4.60) were associated with higher telemedicine suitability across definitions.

DISCUSSION: There is a high potential for patient-to-provider telemedicine in the PED setting. Local patient and visit-level characteristics must be considered in the design of safe and inclusive telemedicine models for pediatric acute care.

PMID:36408736 | DOI:10.1177/1357633X221133415

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