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July 13, 2020

A Defining Moment for Pediatric Primary Care Telehealth

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(1):9-10. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1881

On January 20, 2020, authorities reported the first US case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Snohomish County, Washington. By March 11, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, and on March 13, the US declared a national emergency. On March 18, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidance1 suggesting that pediatricians limit preventive care visits to younger children requiring immunization, separate the well-visit and sick-visit spaces and times, and increase telehealth capacity. Following Medicare’s lead, many Medicaid programs and other payers expanded coverage and relaxed stipulations about telehealth use. In-person visit volumes in pediatric primary care practices plummeted, and many practices initiated or dramatically expanded video visits to reach patients and attempt to maintain financial viability. Within weeks, primary care practices and the families they serve had widely adopted virtual primary care.

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