Using a randomized trial design, the goal of this project is to prospectively compare outcomes from a telemedicine-based model of care to two cohorts: patients who receive in-person pediatric physiatrist medical direction (the "gold standard"), and those who receive medical oversight from non-specialist community providers. This project will determine the impact of this new model of care using telemedicine on parent/guardian satisfaction, adherence rates to an evidence-based hip surveillance program, and economic efficiency.
School-Based Tele-Physiatry Assistance for Rehabilitative and Therapeutic Services for Children With Special Health Care Needs Living in Rural and Underserved Communities
During this study, a novel model of care will be developed and tested using telehealth technologies to bring necessary medical expertise to children with special health care needs living in rural and underserved communities. This model of care will be implemented in eight school-based Medical Therapy Units (MTUs) in northern California using a randomized design. The investigators hypothesize that this model of care will result in 1) equal satisfaction of the care received in-person from pediatric physiatrists and increased satisfaction of the care received from non-pediatric specialists; 2) equal adherence rates to an evidence-based hip surveillance program when compared to children who receive care from in-person pediatric physiatry care and better adherence than children who receive care from non-pediatric specialists; and 3) cost savings when compared to medical direction provided in-person by pediatric physiatrists and non-pediatric specialist providers.
The first 6 months of the project will be a "ramp-up" period during which the protocol will be re-reviewed during MTU site visits and necessary contracts and approvals will be in place. The last 6 months will be reserved for data analysis, study closeout, and manuscript preparation. The intervention phase will include various designs of implementation. For those schools currently without pediatric physiatry services, the investigators will provide MTU services using telemedicine and add in-person clinics. For those schools where medical direction is provided by non-pediatric physiatrists, the investigators will augment current services using telemedicine to provide medical direction to some children using pediatric physiatrists. For those schools where pediatric physiatrists travel long distances to provide medical direction during scheduled clinics, the investigators will similarly add additional telemedicine services such that an augmented mixed model of in-person and telemedicine pediatric physiatrist medical direction will be provided.