Purpose: The Stollery Children's Hospital serves a very large geographic region of over at least 650,000 km² with patients from outside of Edmonton accounting for approximately 50% of the service population. The aim of this study is to document the experience and opinion of the patient and clinician satisfaction with telehealth encounter for various pediatric surgical consultations and follow-up as a way to bridge the distance gap.
Methods: We observe our experience with recent telehealth implementation from 2008 to 2009. Qualitative data were collected through questionnaires aimed at patients and clinicians.
Results: There were 259 pediatric surgical telehealth encounters, of which 37% were from outside the province. There were 42 antenatal multidisciplinary, 13 chronic pain, 103 general surgery, 2 orthopedic, 63 urology, 33 head and shape nurse practioner clinic, and 3 neurosurgery consults. 83 patient and 12 clinician questionnaires were completed. 97% of patients and 73% of clinicians reported satisfaction with having a telehealth session. 97% of the patients reside more than 200 km from the city and 77% live more than 400 km away. 48% reported a cost saving >$500-$700.
Conclusion: Telehealth for pediatric surgical services is an alternative as an acceptable, effective, and appropriate way to consult and follow-up pediatric patients who live in significantly remote areas with great clinician and patient satisfaction.