Children with diabetes who live hours away from the Gainesville area have increased access to specialized treatment closer to home, thanks to the Telemedicine Program led by Toree Malasanos, MD. The program connects health practitioners to patients through the Internet and telemedicine technology to improve care.
The Florida Department of Health’s Children’s Medical Services underwrites the program, allowing dozens of Volusia County children who have diabetes and other endocrine problems to be treated by UF clinicians through the Daytona Beach Children’s Medical Services clinic, instead of coming all the way to Gainesville for appointments.
Every two weeks, a nurse stationed on-site assesses the patients, then presents case details to the medical team in Gainesville via a secure videoconferencing system. UF physicians personally examine patients at the Daytona Beach clinic once a year during a three-day intensive on-site visit.
“Before we started this clinic, we used to go to see the patients quarterly, so if a patient missed a visit with us or if they needed health care more often that that—which a lot of our children with diabetes end up needing—they’d have to come to Gainesville or wait several months,” Malasanos says. “That meant these kids might miss a couple days of school every time they came to clinic. Telemedicine visits also save transportation costs for the families that would have had to come to Gainesville, or transportation costs for the whole medical team.”
The program also includes an educational Web site, open to all children who attend UF diabetes clinics, their teachers and any secondary caregivers, including prospective counselors at the Florida Diabetes Camp. Nurses in the state of Florida who want to learn more about type 1 diabetes in children can earn 3.0 contact hours by taking part in the Florida Initiative in Telehealth & Education (FITE) Inititive. Please visit their website for more information.
“There are other telemedicine clinics that concentrate on general medicine or general pediatrics,” Malasanos said. “But in terms of complete pediatric subspecialist care, Web-based education and counseling interventions, we are fairly unique.”
Be sure to visit the Telemedine site for more information.