The author describes the creation, structuring, and development of a pediatric neurosurgery telemedicine clinic (TMC) to provide telehealth across geographical, time, social, and cultural barriers.
In July 2009 the University of Florida (UF) Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery received a request from the Southeast Georgia Health District (Area 9–2) to provide a TMC to meet regional needs. The Children's Medical Services (CMS) of the State of Georgia installed telemedicine equipment and site-to-site connectivity. Audiovisual connectivity was performed in the UF Pediatric Neurosurgery office, maintaining privacy and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. Administrative steps were taken with documentation of onsite training of the secretarial and nursing personnel of the CMS clinic. Patient preregistration and documentation were performed as required by the UF College of Medicine–Jacksonville. Monthly clinics are held with the CMS nursing personnel presenting the pertinent clinical history and findings to the pediatric neurosurgeon in the presence of the patient/parents. Physical findings and diagnostic studies are discussed, and management decisions are made.
The first TMC was held in August 2011. A total of 40 TMC sessions have been held through January 2016, with a total of 43 patients seen: 13 patients once; 13 patients twice; 8 patients for 3 visits; 2 for 4 visits; 2 for 6 visits; 2 for 5 visits; 2 for 7 visits; and 1 patient has been seen 8 times.
Pediatric patients in areas of the continental US and its territories with limited access to pediatric neurosurgery services could benefit from this model, if other pediatric neurosurgery centers provide telehealth services.