PresenceLearning often highlights how the online delivery of special education related services is a powerful tool for schools in hard-to-reach locations or in areas experiencing therapist shortages. Similar to telepractice for therapy services, telemedicine for basic health examinations and treatments are growing in popularity in rural locations, nursing homes, prisons and now schools.
Stateline, published by The Pew Charitable Trusts, recently covered an instance at Ducketts Lane Elementary School in Elkridge, Maryland during which a student was having an asthma attack, but her parents had not yet signed a permission form allowing the nurse to administer medication. The student’s father was more than an hour away, but the student needed treatment immediately. This situation would typically require the school nurse to call an ambulance for the student; however, the school has a telemedicine program.
The school nurse set up a live, online video conference with an emergency room pediatrician at a local hospital. The student had earlier permission from her parents to participate in the telemedicine program so a digital stethoscope allowed the remote pediatrician to listen to the girl’s lungs, confirm the asthma attack, and direct the school nurse to administer medication. Instead of spending hours at the hospital, the student was back in class within 10 minutes.
Ducketts Lane is one of six elementary schools in the county that implemented a telemedicine program back in 2015. According to Stateline, Former County Executive Ken Ulman launched the program because he believed “health disparities in lower-income areas of the county were depressing student achievement, and that telemedicine might help.”
In 2015, the six schools in the program conducted 150 telemedicine exams. As of January 2016, the count is 87. Of those students examined and treated via telemedicine, 98% immediately returned to their classes. The other 2% were contagious and sent home or had conditions that could not be treated via telemedicine.
These six elementary schools and PresenceLearning have that in common – we want to help students in need by connecting them with highly qualified clinicians, but do so in a way that allows for the least amount of time out of the classroom.