A retrospective review of telehealth services for children referred to a paediatric nephrologist.
BACKGROUND: Telemedicine has emerged as an alternative mode of health care delivery over the last decade. To date, there is very limited published information in the field of telehealth and paediatric nephrology. The aim of this study was to review our experience with paediatric telenephrology in Queensland, Australia.
METHODS: A retrospective audit of paediatric nephrology telehealth consultations to determine the nature of the telehealth activity, reasons for referral to telehealth, and to compare costs and potential savings of the telehealth service.
RESULTS: During a ten-year period (2004 - 2013), 318 paediatric telenephrology consultations occurred for 168 patients (95 male) with the median age of 8 years (range 3 weeks to 24 years). Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (30 %), followed by nephrotic syndrome (16 %), kidney transplant (12 %), and urinary tract infection (9 %) were the most common diagnoses. The estimated cost savings associated with telehealth were $31,837 in 2013 (average saving of $505 per consultation).
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that paediatric telenephrology is a viable and economic method for patient assessment and follow up. The benefits include improved access to paediatric nephrology services for patients and their families, educational opportunity for the regional medical teams, and a substantial cost saving for the health care system.
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