For children, the pandemic rules have meant virtual schooling, vacationing above Zoom, and for some, even seeing the doctor from home.
One in five parents in a new national survey says their child had a virtual medical visit over the past year, whether for checkups, minor illnesses, mental health or follow-up, a noticeable increase in care remote to children.
And while some parents still have reservations about using telemedicine for their children, most were pleased with the experience, suggest findings from the National Child Health Survey at the University of Michigan’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital.
“COVID has had a significant impact on the provision of health services to children, both for routine check-ups and for disease visits,” says Mott Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician. Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH
“We have seen a massive expansion of virtual care, but this experience is especially new for parents who relied primarily on face-to-face pediatric visits. Our survey examined how parents have experienced this evolution in children’s health.”
The nationally representative survey is based on the responses of 2,002 parents of children under the age of 18 in January 2021.
Factors affecting virtual care for children
A strong factor in the increase in pediatric video visits may have been the only option for some parents during much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About half of parents with children who used telemedicine were not offered a face-to-face option, as providers limited office visits due to safety issues for families and health care teams. Instead, many began to offer or expand their capacity for pediatric virtual care.
However, for one in three parents who chose virtual care, security and reduced exposure to the virus were the main reason. Another third of parents chose virtual tours for convenience.
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“For busy parents, a virtual visit reduces the burden of travel time to the appointment and minimizes time out of work or school,” Freed says.
And while these interactions with the video doctor were the first for many parents, nine out of ten were pleased with the visit and felt that all of their questions were answered.
However, some parents still doubt the use of telemedicine for children, citing factors such as technological problems.