Objective: To study the accuracy, patient satisfaction, and cost of telecardiographic evaluations of pediatric patients.
Materials and methods: Patients referred to a rural pediatric cardiology outreach clinic were examined in person by a pediatric cardiologist. A second pediatric cardiologist who had no knowledge of the findings of face-to-face examination reevaluated the same patients utilizing a 768-Kbps telemedicine system. Any additional testing was performed by personnel who had no knowledge of the face-to-face evaluation. The main outcome measures included the final cardiac diagnosis, frequency of additional tests such as electrocardiography, (ECG) echocardiography (ECHO), and patient satisfaction.
Results: The diagnosis was agreed upon in 19 of the 21 patients studied. Two patients with small ventricular septal defects were missed during the telemedicine evaluation. The utilization rates of additional studies for both the face-to-face cardiologist and the telemedicine cardiologist were not significantly different. Patient satisfaction with the telemedicine encounter was good.
Conclusions: Telemedicine appears to be effective and useful for the cardiac evaluation of pediatric patients. In spite of high data-transfer rates, differences between telemedicine and face-to-face patient encounters were observed.