WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest University's School of Medicine is receiving $4.4 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to better understand the benefits of telehealth. The project is a collaboration with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Brenner Children's in Winston-Salem and Atrium Health Levine Children's in Charlotte.
Dr. Savi Nageswaran is a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the study. She said the researchers want to understand how telehealth can improve health outcomes for children with complex chronic conditions and their caregivers.
“These kids are in the hospital a lot, they come to the emergency room a lot. As I said, they come to appointments a lot, and so that’s a lot for these children to go through," Dr. Nageswaran said. "So we are looking at whether providing telehealth as an option in primary care can help ease some of these difficulties.”
Telehealth experienced a rapid expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic, but questions still remain about the most effective ways to incorporate telehealth as part of routine care.
Dr. Nageswaran said COVID-19 was the first time investigators were able to look at telehealth as an option for care. When asked, parents brought up many benefits that the telehealth option provides.
“They mentioned benefits for these children, including difficulties that telehealth eases in bringing these kids to appointments, how less disruptive it is for their day-to-day routine, and the flexibility that it offers for caregivers," Dr. Nageswaran said.
The investigators want policymakers to know that parents like telehealth and that it should remain an option beyond the pandemic.
The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.