Last month, Howard County Public Schools launched the first telemedicine initiative in five school based wellness centers in the state of Maryland. This initiative is run by the Howard County Department of Health with funding from the Howard County Government to support telemedicine carts provided by CareClix, a Washington, D.C.-based telehealth service and technology firm. Phelps Luck Elementary School in Columbia, Maryland is the first school in Maryland to receive certification from the Maryland State Department of Education to have telemedicine cart capabilities. The other participating schools in the county – Running Brook Elementary, Bryant Woods Elementary, Talbott Springs Elementary, and Stevens Forest Elementary– will receive their telemedicine carts this month.
The way the telemedicine carts function is that nurses at the participating schools will utilize proprietary cameras, stethoscopes, and other medical devices to examine students. In turn, physicians at local hospitals will enter the virtual examination room through the proprietary CareClix online software. The physicians will be able to provide clinical care remotely; in addition they will be able to order labs and prescriptions directly through the CareClix platform if necessary. The CareClix telemedicine carts also give parents the opportunity to virtually participate in the examination through their smart phone, if they can not be there in person.
Telemedicine capabilities have many benefits for students and parents. Telemedicine improves access to health care for students, reduces absences due to medical conditions, and improves educational outcomes. In addition, telemedicine allows parents to be present during appointments without having to leave the workplace. According to a study conducted by the Telemedicine and e-Health journal, 84 percent of parents (out of 314 surveyed following their child’s first e-health visit) had positive comments on the open-ended portion of the survey. Primarily, the positive comments reflected the convenience and time saved by the parents due to their ability to not miss work, prescriptions being delivered to the child onsite, as well as the confidence in care. In addition, 35 percent of parents surveyed stated that in the past they have lost pay due to staying home with a sick child. More than 50 percent of parents admitted to giving a child medication when ill and sending them to school if possible.
According to Howard County Public Schools Superintendent Renee A Foose
“Learning can’t happen unless – and until – students are ready to learn. Telehealth keeps students in class, and helps them feel better sooner so they can focus on instruction. It will be a great boon for all students and families, and especially those with the greatest need.”
News Coverage of Telemedicine in Howard County:
CareClix Telemedicine launches technology for Maryland elementary schools — Government Health IT