Covid-19: Study reveals more kids seeing doctors virtually but some parents still hesitant

Michigan: The COVID-19 pandemic phase observed children attending virtual school, holidays over Zoom, which became norms, however, the results of a national poll have highlighted another trend of children seeing doctors virtually. The results state that one in five parents say their child had a virtual health visit over the past year for either check-ups, minor illnesses, mental health, or a follow-up — a marked increase in remote care for children.

And while some parents still have reservations about using telemedicine for their kids, the majority were satisfied with the experience, suggest findings from the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan.

"COVID has had a major impact on the delivery of healthcare for children, both for routine check-ups and visits for illnesses," said Mott Poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Gary L. Freed, M.D., M.P.H.

"We've seen a massive expansion of virtual care, but this experience is especially new to parents who primarily relied on in-person pediatric visits. Our poll looked at how parents have experienced this evolution in children's health," added L. Freed.

The nationally representative poll is based on responses from 2,002 parents of children 18 and under in January 2021. One strong factor for the increase in pediatric video visits may be that it was the only choice for some parents during much of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around half of the parents whose child used telemedicine weren't provided with an in-person option, as providers limited office visits due to safety concerns for families and healthcare teams. Instead, many either began to offer or expanded their capacity for pediatric virtual care.

For one in three parents who chose virtual care, however, safety and reducing exposure to the virus was the primary reason. Another third of parents chose virtual visits for convenience.

"For busy parents, a virtual visit reduces the burden of travel time to the appointment and minimizes time away from work or school," Freed said.

And although these video physician interactions were a first for many parents, nine in 10 were satisfied with the visit and felt all their questions were answered. Still, some parents remain hesitant about using telemedicine for children, citing factors such as technical issues. One in four parents is worried about technical problems with virtual visits, with this being a more common concern among lower-income parents.

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