Children with mental health issues won’t have to travel far to receive care, thanks to a grant from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in Hudson. The foundation recently awarded Akron Children’s a $463,593 grant to create a new telehealth program.
With a shortage of pediatric behavioral health specialists, patients often need to travel long distances, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Now, patients at Akron Children’s will have the option to go to their local pediatrician’s office and see their behavioral health specialist through a secure, high-definition video conference.
“We are excited to be developing this new program which, when fully implemented, will give our patients new options for getting care in a more convenient way,” said Stephen Cosby, MD, director of the division of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“In many cases, transportation issues and the stigma that is sometimes associated with behavioral health concerns are barriers to receiving treatment. Now, patients will be able to receive care in a familiar environment: their pediatrician’s office,” he added.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, research has shown that patients can be reliably assessed, diagnosed, and treated with medicine and psychotherapy in outpatient clinics using video conferencing.
Telehealth services have been shown to improve collaboration between healthcare professionals in different locations. Patients surveyed say they felt that the communication between their physicians had improved their outcomes.
Akron Children’s has created a telehealth project team to oversee the pilot, which will be developed according to national guidelines.
The pilot is also the first major project of the new Center for Telehealth Service Design at Akron Children’s Hospital, which aims to develop knowledge and expertise in the design of telehealth service solutions, with an emphasis on pediatrics.
The program will launch at an Akron Children’s Pediatrics office in Summit County later this year, with plans for expansion.