Background: Telekid Care is a project that attempts to overcome the health and educational barriers faced by children in urban Kansas City, Kansas. Telemedicine units were placed in school nurses' offices and linked to physicians at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). This paper describes the development of this project, presents utilization data, and discuss the lessons learned from the application of telemedicine in a school setting.
Results: Project developers spent 11 months designing the protocol and procedures for a pilot test. Four elementary schools participated, and 187 consultations were conducted. The most common reason for consultation was ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems, making up 28% of all consults. Mandatory school physical examinations and dermatology problems combined to make up an additional 40% of the consults. The average time that elapsed between the request for a consult and confirmation of an appointment was 23 minutes. When immediate service was requested, 85% of the consults occurred the day of the request. These results strongly demonstrate telemedicine's ability to offer immediate service to children in need.
Conclusion: Telemedicine enabled underserved inner-city children to gain access to health services. This service was most effective when it was integrated into the delivery system. Furthermore, community groups strongly favored the project, positively influencing its acceptance as an innovative health care delivery system.