Role of Hospitals: MUSC’s ‘Very Cool’ School-based Telehealth Program Helps Kids and Parents

A nurse assists a boy and his mother who are talking with a doctor via a telehealth system at MUSC in Charleston, South Carolina.

MUSC in Charleston, South Carolina, has developed a school-based telehealth program that contributes to improved health outcomes for children in many rural and underserved communities across the state. Data points to the program’s efficiency and effectiveness in improving health care access.

For kids, the “cool” factor makes telehealth fun too.

“It’s very, very cool that we have a doctor on a TV,” said Tristen, a student at Hemingway Elementary School. “I feel like I’m video chatting with somebody famous.”

The school-based telehealth program provides access to high-quality health care in the school setting. A physician or nurse practitioner from MUSC examines the student with the assistance of the school nurse. The health professionals work together via a secure video connection.

Tina Brown, a Hemingway school nurse, sees firsthand the benefits for parents of school children. In a video shared on the MUSC website, Brown explained that the nearest pediatrician is at least 30 miles from the town of Hemingway, which has about 530 people. Many parents work out of town — including at Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist area — and take public transportation, Brown said. So if a child gets sick at school, it’s difficult for a parent to leave work and take the child to see a doctor.

That’s where telehealth helps. ”It is just like an office visit except it’s virtual,” Brown said.

Tristen also recognizes the value of telehealth beyond the “fun” factor. “It heals my life … and it makes me feel better,” he said.

The MUSC Center for Telehealth is one of only two national Telehealth Centers of Excellence, recognized by the Health Resources & Services Administration. In addition, MUSC was a finalist for the 2022 Foster G. McGaw Prize.

Read more about the MUSC school-based telehealth program.

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