Telemedicine in pediatric transport: a feasibility study

Pediatrics. 1998 Nov;102(5):E58. doi: 10.1542/peds.102.5.e58.


Objective: Investigate the hypothesis that telemedicine, in the form of real-time audiovisual transmission, would permit accurate assessment of illness severity and allow improved triage for transport.

Methods: A prospective study comparing assessments of patients examined conventionally (in person) and remotely by a telemedicine link. Fifteen patients (3 months to 14 years of age) admitted to our emergency department were evaluated as if for transport. Patients were evaluated simultaneously by a physically present pediatric emergency room physician and by a pediatric critical care physician linked to the examining room by a broadband audiovisual link. Each physician completed a patient assessment questionnaire independently. The sensitivity and specificity of the patient assessment by the audiovisually linked physician were calculated.

Results: Sensitivity, ie, the ability of the remote, audiovisually connected telemedicine physician to detect abnormal findings, is 87.5%. Specificity, the ability of the remote physician to detect normal findings, is 93%. It is likely that sensitivity would be markedly improved with addition of an electronic stethoscope.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that pediatric patients may be assessed accurately with a broadcast-quality real-time audiovisual system. Such a system may have dramatic implications for providing pediatric specialty and subspecialty care in underserved areas.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remote Consultation* / instrumentation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Television
  • Transportation of Patients