Is Telemedicine the Answer?
In our last post, we noted the disproportionately high rate of teen pregnancy in the Latino population. According to the latest data gathered in 2013 approximately 1 in 3 Latina teens had one pregnancy before the age of 20. This is one and a half times the national teen pregnancy rate across races. This raises questions about what is uniquely happening in this population and how can healthcare providers begin to address the issue.
Many in healthcare recognize access to affordable healthcare as a cornerstone issue. The 2010 census found that 28.2% of the 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S. live in poverty. Many low-income families live in areas that are either rural and lack healthcare clinics or densely populated areas that lack enough specialist to go around. Lack of transportation to available providers is also a significant barrier.
For low income populations, telehealth, which includes both provider education and clinical care, can bring significant change in education and access to care. In July 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement about the use of telemedicine to “improve access to care, provide more patient- and family-centered care, increase efficiencies in practice, enhance the quality of care, and address projected shortages in the clinical workforce”.
Telemedicine uses telecommunications technology to deliver health services to patients who live in remote areas and to facilitate information exchange between medical providers and patients, as well as between medical providers. This technology can include video conferencing from the privacy of a patient’s home, receiving medical services over the phone or internet, and by using technology in remote areas so a medical provider can be virtually present in the room.
Telehealth services have also been seen to combat barriers especially present in teen populations such as fear of embarrassment and transportation difficulties. As higher risk teens become more educated about how their bodies work, the risks of pregnancy, prenatal care, and birth control planning, we hope to see a marked decrease in teen pregnancy.
Telemedicine has the potential to bring real change to the healthcare industry for teen patients, providers, and the community at large. This is a fascinating frontier, join us next month as we expand on the impact the new technologies and policy shifts can bring.
 Curtin, S. C., Abma, J. C., & Henshaw, S. K. (2016, December). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db136.htm. Retrieved from cdc.gov: http://www.cdc.gov
 Hispanic Health. (2010). http://hispanichealth.weebly.com/barriers-to-health-care-for-hispanics.html. Retrieved from Weebly: http://hispanichealth.weebly.com/
 American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015, June). http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/06/23/peds.2015-1253. Retrieved from AAP News and Journals Gateway: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org
 Brakman, A., Ellsworth, T. R., & Gold, M. (2017, June 1). https://www.ahcmedia.com/articles/140636-telehealth-improves-access-to-reproductive-health-education-and-services-for-rural-adolescents. Retrieved from ACH Media: https://www.ahcmedia.com/