PHILADELPHIA — When contact between practitioners and athletic trainers is facilitated through telemedicine for the assessment of concussion in adolescents, both the time and distance to a specialist is reduced, improving satisfaction with care for providers treating this population, according to a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
“Using this technology is not only cost-effective, but it increases the number of providers that can manage concussions,” Cydne Marckmann, DNP, ARNP, FAANP, from the Frontier Nursing University and the University of Washington, said in an interview with Infectious Diseases in Children. “This gets kids back to school quicker and helps manage any pitfalls that may come along the way.”
To determine the effectiveness of telemedicine for concussion treatment and provider satisfaction with this technology, Marckmann and colleagues conducted a pilot study that used nurse practitioner-led assessment and management of athletes between the ages of 13 and 18 who had acquired a concussion. These evaluations and treatments were given in conjunction with athletic trainers who were present with the teenager. This study was held within a fall sports season (August through December).
The specific technology used for assessment was HIPPA compliant and included the use of a SCAT 3 symptom scale. All trainers and practitioners were recruited and trained in the use of the technology, and the platform was secured. Satisfaction surveys were administered before and after each assessment.
The most common positive comments collected from trainers involved the ease and accessibility of the program from any location — including on the sidelines of a sporting event — and the cost and time saved for both the patient and the health care professional. The study also revealed that although telemedicine is a valuable tool for treating rural patients with little access to health care, the technology is equally as valuable for those living in more urban areas.
“Urban equity in health care is more of an issue than we suspected,” Marckmann said. “I had a lot of parents who were within 10 miles of my clinic, but there were a lot of low wage-earning single moms. For them to take off 4 hours from work is a reduction in money needed for food and other necessities.”
These patients were interested in telemedicine and were inquiring about it because “it allowed their child to get quality health care without having to lose money, and that’s a great thing,” according to Marckmann.
With the growing interest in telemedicine, Marckmann and colleagues suggest that more funding is needed to build the infrastructure for this technology, and that this is a viable business opportunity for practitioners. — by Katherine Bortz
Marckmann C, et al. Telemedicine, a quality initiative for concussion management: a Washington state pilot. Presented at: American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference; June 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Infectious Diseases in Children was unable to confirm financial disclosures before publication.