Telemedicine use by pediatric rheumatologists during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pediatr Rheumatol Online J. 2021 Jun 16;19(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s12969-021-00565-7.


Background: To characterize various aspects of telemedicine use by pediatric rheumatology providers during the recent pandemic including provider acceptability of telehealth practices, clinical reliability, and clinical appropriateness.

Methods: An electronic survey was generated and disseminated amongst the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) listserv (n = 547). Survey items were analyzed via descriptive statistics by question.

Results: The survey response rate was 40.8% (n = 223) with the majority of respondents in an attending-level role. We observed that musculoskeletal components of the exam were rated as the most reliable components of a telemedicine exam and 86.5% of survey respondents reported engaging the patient or patient caregiver to help conduct the virtual exam. However, 65.7% of providers reported not being able to elicit the information needed from a telemedicine visit to make a complete clinical assessment. We also noted areas of disagreement regarding areas of patient engagement and confidentiality. We found that approximately one-third (35.8%) of those surveyed felt that their level of burnout was increased due to telemedicine.

Conclusion: In general, providers found exam reliability (specifically around focused musculoskeletal elements) in telemedicine visits but overall felt that they were unable to generate the information needed to generate a complete clinical assessment. Additionally, there were suggestions that patient engagement and confidentiality varied during telemedicine visits when compared to in-person clinical visits. Further qualitative work is needed to fully explore telemedicine use in pediatric rheumatology.

Keywords: COVID-19; Healthcare delivery services; Telehealth; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Physical Examination
  • Rheumatologists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*