The Conferencing Zone

Conferencing Featured Article

July 01, 2014

Study Finds Videoconferencing in Healthcare Lowers Stress for Pediatric Patients

By Daniel Brecht
Contributing Writer

Video conferencing has become the tool of choice in many business practices to bridge the distance gap when travel is not an option, impractical or not desired; it allows users to carry out live, real-time meetings or engage in any other type of online activity where face-to-face interaction is essential. Today, videoconferencing is driving business growth, and is an important element for those that want to save on costs and enhance productivity; it brings a valuable solution in the business world for all types of workplaces to quickly solve problems and make decisions on the spot.

Leveraging videoconferencing technology has come to be an important element within any organization, (especially the healthcare industry) in delivering services to patients and providing them care during diagnosis and treatment. Using videoconferencing (or telepresence) along with special medical equipment connected over the same link has become more prevalent in the delivery of health-related services; a specialist can diagnose a patient at a remote location and give life-saving care to those that need it, even when far from medical facilities.

One medical facility that uses secure videoconferencing for patients and families is UC Davis Children's Hospital. This pediatric clinic has been focused on technology-enabled healthcare for years: telemedicine, telehealth services, using on-demand video for convenient distance learning and adopting use of electronic health records are some examples. Yet, a new study of their Family-Link program finds how videoconferencing with friends and family actually lowers stress for pediatric patients.

A Medical Xpress post on Monday suggested the Family-Link program enhances quality of life during long hospital stays. UC Davis professor James Marcin released data from a study on 367 children who were hospitalized for at least four days and had access to Family-Link, which provides patients with laptops, webcams and secure internet connections to communicate with family and friends using applications like Skype and FaceTime (News - Alert). The professor noted significantly reduced pediatric patients stress because of using Family-Link. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Family-Link allows family and friends, who live too far to visit, a means to teleconference with a patient at UC Davis Children's Hospital. Professor Marcin’s study proved that virtual visits have a similar effect as in-person ones that can decrease stress and even improve recovery times of patients. The professor used the Parent-Guardian Stress Survey to assess the children's anxiety levels, both at admission and discharge, for his findings. “Overall, children who used Family-Link experienced a greater reduction in stress than children who did not use Family-Link,” said Nikki Yang, first author on the study.

According to Yang, it is clear that the study and feedback on the Family-Link program show positive findings and value for UC Davis Children's Hospital, which has more than 74,000 clinic and hospital visits and 13,000 emergency department visits each year. Moreover, the professor’s research is a great example of how video teleconferencing technology can really be put to good use; in this case, it is invaluable to help children during their hospital stay.


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