Comparison of telemedicine to traditional face-to-face care for children with special needs: A quasiexperimental study

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10 Scopus citations


Background: Services for Children with Special Healthcare Needs (CSHCN) have been challenging in terms of cost and access to appropriate healthcare services. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine cost, caring, and family-centered care in relationship to pediatric specialty services integrating telemedicine visits compared to traditional face-to-face visits only for (CSHCN) in rural, remote, and medically underserved areas. Methods: This study used a prospective, quasiexperimental research design with 222 parents or legal guardians of CSHCN receiving pediatric specialty care. The traditional group (n = 110) included families receiving face-to-face pediatric specialty care and the telemedicine group (n = 112) included families who had telemedicine visits along with traditional face-to-face pediatric specialty care. Results: Results indicated no significant differences in family costs when the telemedicine group was compared to traditional face-to-face care. When the telemedicine group was asked to anticipate costs if telemedicine was not available, there were significant differences found across all variables, including travel miles, cost of travel, missed work hours, wages lost, child care cost, lodging cost, other costs, and total family cost (p < 0.001). There were no differences in the families' perceptions of care as caring. Parents/guardians perceived the system of care as significantly more family-centered when using telemedicine (p = 0.003). Conclusions: The results of this study underscore the importance of facilitating access to pediatric specialty care by use of telemedicine. We endorse efforts to increase healthcare access and decrease cost for CSHCN by expanding telemedicine and shaping health policy accordingly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-441
Number of pages9
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • pediatrics
  • technology
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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