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High Tech: The New Healthcare Movement

Welcome to the next generation of pediatric care


Anthonyo Magit, Rady Children's Hospital, Pediatric Otolaryngologist

Dr. Anthony Magit, Rady Children's Hospital, Pediatric Otolaryngologist

Telemedicine is revolutionizing health care accessibility, and Rady Children’s Hospital is at the forefront of the movement, using iPads, smartphones, and even robots to treat some of its youngest patients.

Virtual house call: iPad to your pad

The so-called iGeneration or Generation Z may never get an old-fashioned house call, but they can experience a virtual one. Young patients in far-flung places can talk directly to their pediatrician through an iPad. A visiting nurse does the physical exam, and dials in for the doctor. “In the old days it wasn’t unusual for the family physician to make home visits at the end of the day,” Magit says. “Now it’s not time-efficient to drive around. Despite the fact the physician isn’t sitting in the room, patients actually get a personal connection.” Rady Children’s is doing virtual visits with select palliative care patients who have a hard time traveling. It spares kids with advanced cancer or cerebral palsy a taxing drive and waiting room lag.

Real kids, real time

Doctors at Rady Children’s may learn things about kids’ activities that even their parents don’t know. There’s no cheating with smartphones, which capture minute-by-minute vital signs and deliver printouts to pediatricians. Running around the playground? Check. Taking an afternoon nap? Yep. Drinking soda pop? Caught! Magit, who supervises Rady Children’s telemedicine program, says they’re seeing benefits in kids with diabetes. Rady’s is also currently running a pilot program aimed at preventing serious asthma attacks. “You can see when they’re using their inhalers. You’re no longer relying on people to remember what they’ve done.” Snap-on sensors and a Qualcomm wireless hub chart a child’s heart and respiratory rates, activity level, and inhaler use. Families can follow along on a patient dashboard.

Have robot, will travel

Rady Children’s is deploying three-foot-tall robots—affectionately nicknamed “Rady D-2”—to a hospital far, far away. Okay, not that far. The fleet is stationed in neonatal intensive care units from La Jolla to Murrieta. Pediatric specialists operate the robots remotely—“like a toy car,” Magit says—to evaluate newborns where they’re most needed. “There are lots of patients who don’t need to be transferred to Rady’s, if you have the right diagnosis,” Magit explains. “Say a specialist diagnoses a child with a particular rash. They can possibly be taken care of right where they are. Or they can say, ‘This is a child who needs to come to the hospital.’” The Rady D-2 robots are armed with high-resolution screens and cameras. Magit says they minimize the risks of unnecessarily moving premature and sick babies. They also allow families to stay at their local hospitals, like Scripps Encinitas and Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. Rady Children’s is looking at expanding the program to emergency rooms and community clinics. No plans yet for C-3PO.

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