Telehealth? Think twice.

Jan 6, 2020 | News, Wellness Care

Darren T. Scoggin, MD

Children’s Medical Group

Jackson, MS

Recently you may have seen some advertisements from insurers or other companies offering “telehealth” visits by phone for minor medical complaints. Some diagnoses that these companies offer to treat include common problems such as cold symptoms, rashes, and allergies, but also include flu, sinus infection, strep throat, ear infection, and urinary tract infection. While there is a role that telehealth services play in our evolving system of healthcare, it may be problematic in some situations. I’d like to list a few reasons to advocate seeing your child’s pediatrician when he or she is sick and in need of care.

  1. Children are not just “little adults” and should have special care. A pediatrician is trained to recognize common and more serious problems in children which may often be overlooked as a common complaint.
  2. Studies have shown that telehealth visits are more likely to result in unnecessary antibiotic use. Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses which do not require antibiotics. For example, about 70% of sore throats in children are caused by viruses and most only need time to resolve. Antibiotics are the cause of tens of thousands of ER visits yearly due to side effects, many of which could be avoided.
  3. Your child’s pediatrician knows his or her history and has followed your child through sickness and wellness visits. You have established trust in that care and have an established relationship to return if problems are not improving.
  4. What would you do if the prescribed course of action does not go as expected? For example, if your child has a sore throat and you choose telehealth, who will you call if your child fails to improve? If your answer is your child’s pediatrician, then consider starting there in the first place to ensure quality care with the continuity of a provider who knows you and your child.
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