A grant from the National Institutes of Health will help professor Jill Halterman study the effects of a telemedicine follow-up program in children hospitalized with asthma.
After the crisis passes, however, they often don’t receive adequate follow-up care, either because they don’t have a primary care provider or because their parents have difficulty bringing them in for appointments.
“It can be very challenging for families,” Jill Halterman said in a statement. “A caregiver will have just taken unplanned time off of work to bring their child to the emergency room, and now they are expected to find additional time to bring their child in for a follow-up appointment.”
After an asthma attack, a primary care provider can recommend preventive measures and also prescribe medication if necessary. Those strategies in turn can prevent children from returning to the emergency room with further asthma attacks.
The study will identify such children at the Strong Memorial Hospital and Rochester General Hospital emergency rooms and sign them up for subsequent telemedicine appointments, to be conducted at their school nurse’s office. Conducting the follow-up appointment remotely makes it easier for parents to participate, Halterman said.
Halterman hopes to enlist 430 students ages 4-12, mostly in the Rochester School District. Each student would be enrolled for 12 months following his or her initial emergency room visit. Researchers will then track the children’s health after the attack to see whether the telemedicine approach was helpful.
The study fits into a larger movement to improve health care for poor children by bringing the services to their schools. Several Rochester schools, including the newly envisioned Beacon School 17 in the JOSANA neighborhood, have health clinics in place for their students.