Health-e-Access has hit a huge milestone – 10,000 telemedicine visits with health care providers since the program began in May 2001 with pediatricians at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The 10,000th visit occurred recently at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School in Rochester.
In recent years, Health-e-Access has expanded beyond its initial focus of children in city child care programs to include every Rochester city school as well as weekend and after hours care. It uses the internet and specialized equipment to connect health care providers with sick children at convenient community locations to diagnose common childhood illnesses and prescribe medication as appropriate. It has allowed parents to avoid missing work or delaying care for their children. It also means parents don’t have to go to the emergency room, which costs significantly more and takes much more time.
“We’re delighted to reach this milestone – it means we’ve helped thousands of families get care both when and where they needed it most,” said Kenneth M. McConnochie, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and director of Health-e-Access. “Moreover, more that 80 percent of the time the child is seen by a doctor from their own primary care medical home.”
Health-e-Access connects eight doctor’s offices with over 100 child care centers, schools, programs and neighborhood-based locations. The program has made a dramatic difference, more than halving absence due to illness among children and helping parents avoid significant time lost from work to get care for their sick children. Children with telemedicine access at child care or school have been shown to make 22 percent fewer emergency department visits than children who do not. The program has even more potential to impact the flow of patients to the emergency room. A 2008 community-wide study found that 40 percent of all visits to the pediatric emergency department could have been replaced with a more cost-effective and more convenient telemedicine visit.
The program has caught the attention of state and national health organizations. The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) recognized Health-e-Access in June 2009 for its achievements in improving access to health care for children and families in the Rochester area. In July 2010, the American Hospital Association awarded Health-e-Access the prestigious AHA NOVA Award, which honors hospital-community collaborations that improve community health.
“Our goal since the first visit on May 7, 2001, at the Volunteers of America Child Care Center has been to make health care more accessible and more convenient,” McConnochie said. “I think we have made great strides in the past decade in using 21st Century information technology to enhance access to high quality health care, but we see more and more opportunities to help families in the future.”
Health-e-Access has also provided dental screenings for children for several years. It is now piloting pediatric behavioral health visits, illness visits for adults, and – in close collaboration with international relief organizations – programs to support countries like Haiti with profound health problems and severe shortages of physicians and other health care resources. A newly developed and active program is evaluating delivery of telemedicine services to older adults dwelling in senior living communities.
To arrange a visit at a participating school or day care, parents should work with the staff on-site. For after-hours visits, parents should call their health care provider. If parents run into trouble arranging the visit, they can page Health-e-Access staff at (585) 220-2890 for help.
Disclosure: McConnochie was a founder of TeleAtrics, which supplies telemedicine systems and support services for Health-e-Access, and may receive future compensation from the Trifecta Technologies, the current owner to TeleAtrics products and services.