WRITER: BECKY SOGLIN
CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
UI study examining use of telemedicine for pediatric genetic counseling
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A researcher in the University of Iowa College of
Medicine has been awarded a grant to evaluate the use of telemedicine in
pediatric genetic counseling in Iowa.
Dr. Kim Keppler-Noreuil, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics,
division of medical genetics, received $6,500 from the Children's Miracle
Network for her pilot study.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to provide
medical care, such as patient exams or consultations. The UI study will
track follow-up pediatric genetic consultations of patients and their families
at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, one of 16 Regional Genetics
Consultation Services (RGCS) in Iowa.
Families throughout Iowa are referred for a genetic evaluation by the
RGCS when their children are diagnosed with one or more birth defects or
when there is a known or suspected genetic disorder. Because many conditions
can be inherited, a geneticist may need to evaluate the entire family.
Other birth defects are caused by environmental factors. More than 1,200
children are born with birth defects in Iowa each year.
UI telemedicine services are provided through a live video program that
uses an interactive communications device called the TeleDoc. Using the
technology, the examining UI physician-geneticist can remain at the UI
Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) and visually evaluate a patient with a birth
defect or inherited condition at a distant health care site. A UIHC genetic
nurse counselor travels to the site to guide the patient and family through
the teleconsultation and conduct any exams requiring the use of a stethoscope
or otoscope. Personnel at the two sites provide technical support for the
The TeleDoc provides such clear images that a physician can detect even
minor anomalies of the skin, hair or bones, for example, which point to
an underlying genetic disorder. "It's just like being there,"
said Keppler-Noreuil, who has used the technology.
Keppler-Noreuil said the UI study is evaluating patient and physician
satisfaction with the teleconsultations, ease of use, timesaving factors
and cost-effectiveness. She said patients are asked to compare the quality
of care provided in a TeleDoc visit with meeting with a physician in person.
"The study results will show us how the UI can best use telemedicine
to expand genetic and educational services for children and their families
and primary care providers. Physicians should be able to devote more time
to their work and less time to travel."
Currently, a physician may spend up to six hours traveling to a genetic
counseling site, and some clinic visits require an overnight stay, Keppler-Noreuil
Keppler-Noreuil would like to publish her report in late 1999.
Teleconsultation in pediatric genetic counseling is one of several clinical
telemedicine services offered by the UI.
Children's Miracle Network raises funds to benefit the Children's Hospital
of Iowa at the UIHC and helps underwrite advanced medical technology, sophisticated
facilities, pediatric research and diversionary items that improve the
quality of life for hospitalized children and their families.