Healthy Kids - Summer 2021

“She’s immuno- compromised,

so if she doesn’t physically have to go in, I always do it that way”

When her baby is too sick to visit a specialist in person, MEGAN LOPEZ finds it incredibly valuable to convert the appointment to telemedicine

villages. In the space age, NASA has used remote monitoring devices to track the physiologic data of astronauts in orbit. Rady Children’s looked to emerging technologies to give telemedicine a shot back in 2012 by deploying VGo robots to satellite NICUs. Each 4-foot-tall mobile robot was effectively a video screen and camera on wheels. Offsite specialists could operate them by remote control, moving them through Hospital corridors and using their two-way video feeds to monitor patients from afar. However, this and other pilot programs never really took off. And despite a proliferation of video calling technology that only got better (and easier to use) in the years following that VGo experiment, telemedicine failed to see widespread adoption— that is, until COVID-19 came along. Rady Children’s administrators report that,

prior to the pandemic, the number of weekly telemedicine visits averaged in the single digits. But over the course of 2020, the hospital logged a whopping 125,791 telehealth appointments, serving 92,341 patients! Obviously, restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus were the driving force behind the explosive growth of telemedicine in 2020. But even though vaccination numbers are rising, and a return to normalcy appears within reach, the genie is officially out of the bottle. Now that circumstances have made it a more accessible and desirable choice, the inherent value of telemedicine has been made clear to all parties—patients, physicians and insurers alike. And even once we’re able to put the pandemic in the rearviewmirror, the option to schedule certain types of doctor appointments at Rady Children’s as remote visits is not only here to stay: It’s just getting started. Historically, both patients and doctors had been leery of telemedicine, mainly over concerns it would be less effective. But when Gracie left the hospital last October, Megan was grateful


Made with FlippingBook Online document maker