In response to increased referrals to Florida's Child Protection Teams and concern regarding statewide availability of medical expertise in the area of child abuse and neglect, Children's Medical Services of the Florida Department of Health established a telemedicine project to facilitate immediate expert medical evaluations of alleged child abuse or neglect. This article describes a baseline examination of the project, including the technique of concept mapping, to examine how larger systematic factors influence the adaptation of telemedicine technology in child abuse examination settings.
This study included interviews of key staff plus the incorporation of concept mapping, which takes qualitative data (individual statements and opinions) and quantifies them (sorts and ranks them by order of group importance).
Findings from interviews revealed that the frequency of use of telehealth services varies across the state as a result of several factors, including space limitations and staff training. Patients, however, seem to be comfortable with the use of the new technology. The concept mapping exercise displayed a progression of issues that are perceived to have an impact on the use of this technology.
Technology use is affected by unforeseen variables, such as physical space limitations and examination room availability. Family concerns about patient privacy issues were rare and were resolved quickly by the health care practitioner. Although using this equipment is not difficult, the search for user-friendliness should be continued. Staff engagement early in the process likely will result in a greater likelihood of use of the technology.telehealth, telemedicine, child protection, child abuse and neglect, concept mapping.