1. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* School-based telehealth programs that focus on asthma and other chronic pediatric diseases may improve the health of children living in rural and medically underserved communities.


* Analysis of the asthma subsample in this study showed that the telehealth program was associated with an approximately 21% relative decrease in the likelihood of ED visits.



Article Content

Although telehealth services are known to be beneficial for adults, little is known about their effectiveness in children who have chronic conditions. Researchers studied the association between a telehealth program and the likelihood of all-cause ED visits among children enrolled in Medicaid and a subsample of these children with asthma.


The study was a retrospective analysis of Medicaid claims data from a county in South Carolina that had adopted a school-based telehealth program and four neighboring counties that didn't have such a program. The full sample included all children three to 17 years of age living in these counties and enrolled in Medicaid; the subsample included children with a diagnosis of asthma. The telehealth program was adopted in 2015; researchers designated 2012 to 2014 as the preintervention period and 2015 to 2017 as the postintervention period.


Regression analysis of the full sample showed no overall association between the telehealth program and the likelihood of all-cause ED visits. Analysis of the asthma subsample, however, showed that the telehealth program was associated with an overall reduction of 0.66 percentage points per 100 children per month in the likelihood of ED visits, representing an approximately 21% relative decrease. The strength of the association increased during the postintervention period, becoming most apparent in the third year of the program.


Because the study evaluated only one outcome in a single county and participants were enrolled in Medicaid, the findings may not be applicable to privately insured children or those who have other conditions, the authors note.


Bian J, et al JAMA Pediatr 2019 Sept 9 [Epub ahead of print].