PEDIATRICS IN THE INTERNET AGE
Pediatrics has certainly been impacted by the Internet Age. And like Internal Medicine and Family Practice, many of the changes concern innovations that occur in the office, private practice settings.
The out-sourcing of labs is likely to decrease because of hardware like the i-Stat. Many basic labs will be done in house. Special labs, of course, will be sent out. With time, there will be gradual integration of portable ultrasounds done in the office, for possible referral if rarely problematic. Even cultures will be done in-house, with perhaps a small-part of the office dedicated to using the i-Petri dish to diagnose strep, UTI’s, etc., since using this system is not labor-intensive, and relatively simple. Recently approved by the FDA, is the Remotoscope, or i-Otoscope. This iPhone peripheral allows the parent to take a photo of the child’s tympanic membrane, and send it to the pediatricians office, for diagnosis, and possible decision-making.
Since the pediatrician begins the practice with neonates, let’s touch on that subject, as it pertains to digitalization and neonates. One aspect that will be affected is the monitoring of the sick neonate. Hopefuly, the neonate will have less time in the Intensive care, if they can be effecitively monitored from home, with various sensors. In Ob/gyn, there is a monitor currrently being developed, and going through testing in Mexico, called the Sense4u, which monitors, remotely, a pregnant female, for fetal distress. A similar device will, most likely, be developed for the monitoring of neonates remotely also. There are similar devices are currently in development with adults. There is a device, called the ViSi Mobile, which was recently approved by the FDA (August 2012), which monitors the vital signs remotely, but has only been approved for non-ICU hospital beds. It is just a matter of time before it hits the house settings for both adults, kids, and neonates.
Another technology that will probably have an impact on Pediatrics from Internet Medicine, from research currently being conducted at MIT Media Lab, is investigations into Eulerian Motion. This technology allows for the detection of pulse rate from a video only, and once developed will also aid in the remote monitoring of a sick neonate and infant. See the following video which explain this fascinating useful technology:
Perhaps the largest part of the Pediatrician’s practice that will benefit from Internet Medicine willl be in the field of Patient Education, or, in this case, Parent Education. As most Pediatricians know, a large part of any pediatrician’s day is spent in Parent reassurance. Reasurring the parent that thing will be OK, and, perhaps, there is nothing to be worried about, and that the child is OK. Not every child, but many. And parent education, vastly improved with the correct implemention of internet sources, is likely to improve this aspect of a pediatrician’s practice. The parent will not simply be told, “look it up on the web”, but will be given exact websites, and exact references, that will correlate with the parents internet skills. It does absolutely no good to give a parent a website that is designed for healthcare professionals. But good, appropriate reference for topic and internet skills of parents.
With time, the parent education process may be streamlined, so that, optimally, the parent will even be directed to research any possible concern BEFORE coming to the office, so that time spend with the pediatrican is efficiently utilized.