Penn Highlands Healthcare Introduces Virtual Doctor Visits With Brockway Area School District

It is the call that most parents and guardians dread when their children are at school -- the school nurse calls to say that the child is ill or injured and may need to see a doctor. In many instances, the adult may need to leave work to take the child for a diagnosis.

Now, Penn Highlands Healthcare is offering parents a convenient new option — virtual doctor visits. The health system is partnering with Brockway Area School District to offer MySchoolHealthNow that allows the school nurse to connect with a Penn Highlands physician via high-definition telemedicine video and communications equipment for evaluation of a child. Conditions that can be evaluated range from earaches, fever and rashes to abrasions, headaches and pinkeye.

“This is a great new service that makes healthcare for children more convenient and accessible,” said Trina Abla, DO, Chief Medical Officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare. “Plus, this new program helps avoid delays in treatment and promotes enhanced learning by decreasing absenteeism,” she added.

All students in the Brockway Area School District are eligible to enroll in the school-based telemedicine program. When a child who is enrolled in the program becomes ill or injured, the school nurse evaluates the student in person. If it is determined that further evaluation is needed, the nurse will contact the parent/guardian to obtain verbal consent to proceed with the telemedicine visit. Parents/guardians are also invited to participate in the video visit. During the physician’s evaluation, the school nurse assists through the use of special equipment. For example, the Penn Highlands physician has the ability to listen to the student’s heart and lungs with a digital stethoscope; and, high-definition cameras are used to examine the ears, throat, rash or abrasions. Upon completion of the evaluation, the physician provides instructions for follow-up care and, if needed, submits and order to the family’s pharmacy of choice for prescription medications. A record of the child’s visit is kept on file in their medical record at Penn Highlands Healthcare for future reference.

In addition to the virtual doctor visits, through the MySchoolHealthNow program at Brockway Area School District, children can also have virtual behavioral health visits during the school day. With the Penn Highlands program, students who follow with one of the health system’s psychiatrists can see and talk to their psychiatrist without leaving the school.

“The Brockway students who participate in the virtual behavioral health visits will be directed to a safe, secure and private room for their appointments with the psychiatrist for a confidential and discreet visit,” explained Dr. Abla.

Penn Highlands Healthcare will assess opportunities to expand the MySchoolHealthNow program to other districts in the future.