Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH) is partnering with the Leon County School Board (LCS) to pilot a telemedicine program in five schools with a high population of children with diabetes.
The item was approved unanimously at the January 14th LCS Board meeting. The participating schools have yet to be identified and student participation will require parental consent.
The clinical support by TMH will involve consults with a diabetes educator via telemedicine. Telemedicine consults will occur through a touch screen device permanently mounted on a stand with access to a virtual room of parents, medical experts, clinic staff, administrators and other trained staff. Instead of hiring more specialized nurses, Leon County is implementing this technological service for students.
With the LCS pilot, students with diabetes can visit the portal in the health offices to receive specific information related to their health and wellness. Dr. Alan Cox with LCS, told the Board that the pilot program “can help with diabetes management by reading blood glucose levels, reading insulin doses..”
Not addressed during the discussion at the LCS meeting was the fact that by creating an accessible portal to aid students with diabetes might be failing to address the larger issue at hand, obesity. A recent report indicated that 30% of Leon County 1st, 3rd & 6th grade students are obese. Being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Growth in Telemedicine
STAT, an online journalism blog about life sciences, recently wrote that Telemedicine programs are making inroads in schools. The article cited a report that found telemedicine helped address socioeconomic disparities in acute care access in the Rochester, New York.
STAT also reported about a telemedicine program in Texas which began with two preschools in 2013 and eventually grew to reach 97 schools and has conducted 4,000 virtual doctor visits at those schools.
“I have the technology to listen to heart sounds, look in ears, at skin and in mouths,” said Dr. Stormee Williams, a pediatrician who sees students via video.
Dr. Cox also told the Board that a pilot program focused on oral health is being considered by LCS.