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Introduction: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, multiple measures were taken to decelerate the disease progression. This article describes the experience with telemedicine in a pediatric ambulatory clinic during the outbreak and reports the perception of the department's clinicians on telemedicine experience.
Methodology: This study was conducted in a pediatric ambulatory clinic in a level II hospital. A retrospective analysis was conducted, comparing the pediatric face-to-face and telemedicine appointments in two equivalent periods of 2019 and 2020: March to June and July to December. In order to evaluate the clinicians’ perception on telemedicine, a questionnaire was applied.
Results: In the first period analysed (March to June), the number of pediatric appointments decreased in 2020. However, an eight- fold increase was observed in telemedicine appointments. In the second period (July to December), there was an increase in the total number of appointments in 2020, 60% of which were done by telemedicine. All the respondent practitioners considered telemedicine valuable during COVID-19 pandemic. The most important benefit found by the pediatricians was the minimization of infection risk (48.5%), and 63.6% of them considered the impossibility to do physical examination the most significant disadvantage. Overall, most clinicians (81.2%) want to keep using telemedicine in a future without pandemic.
Discussion and Conclusion: The number of pediatric telemedicine appointments increased significantly in 2020. This could be explained by the department’s restructuration due to COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of the “post-emergency” appointments, and the reduced absenteeism. Although face-to-face appointment's irreplaceable value, the beneficial effect of telemedicine during pandemic period was evident and consensual in clinician’s perception.