The Future of Pediatrics
Unlike medical advances for adults, new technologies in children’s healthcare only happens every few years.
Why? Few devices and cutting-edge procedures are purpose built for children. Tech is frequently built for and tested on adults and then reformatted to suit smaller bodies and physiological changes as the child grows.
Adapting and using new tech is also a challenge because it’s scary. Often, kids don’t understand what’s happening to them when they get sick or when they go to a doctors’ office. MRI machines and CT scanners are frightening for many adults. It’s no surprise that children feel the same uncertainty, discomfort and fear when faced with an unknown machine or treatment.
But these newer technologies are working to change that.
Making Medicine Less Scary
Many children associate the feeling of fear with doctors’ visit, especially if they’re sick or very young. Fifty percent of young children are afraid of visiting the doctor – imagine the fear and stress on children that visit the hospital, receive a sophisticated health screening or undergo a procedure.
As adults, relating or quelling those fears is difficult while using cold, metal instruments and sharp needles that may hurt but will help make the kids better.
That’s why doctors are starting to use technologies like “needleless” injections to make the children more comfortable and the procedures more pain-free.
“Needleless” injections harness the power of microscopic needles to inject vaccines into children or to even take blood with little to no discomfort.
Not only does this build trust between the provider and child, but it saves the physician time between patients that they can use giving better care.
Making Medicine Accessible
While pediatric patient care continues to get better in clinics and hospitals, many U.S. families still lack access to a pediatrician. And for families whose children need specialists, wait times to see a doctor can stretch weeks or months.
Telehealth has proven effective for providers to talk to parents and even record children’s vitals.
Companies like TempTraq recently rolled out stick-on temperature gauges that allow easy communication and monitoring of the child by the physician through the parents’ smart phone.
In the cases where parents live too far from their nearest pediatric center or in communities with limited access to care, some hospitals and not-for-profit organizations have taken to serving communities through mobile units to improve patient care and reduce wait times. The University of Miami Pediatric Mobile Clinic providers provides nearly 3000 children a year with medical services. While Virtua’s Pediatric Mobile Services Program provides developmental screenings, flu shots and even testing for lead poisoning.
The Future of Children’s Healthcare
But is it all enough? The answer isn’t cut and dry.
Technology allows Pediatricians and hospitals to better-serve the patients they have and reach out to more potential patients.
However, pediatrics as a specialty is , mostly from clinician burn-out and an ever-growing number of new patients.
That’s why hospitals and clinics need to invest not only in new technology, but also in the well-being of their providers.
All of these strategies are part of the same puzzle of patient care, and when they work together, millions of little lives get better.
Sources: Children’s Hospital Association, Medgadget, Physicians Weekly, U.S. Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics, University of Miami Health System