Training Medical Virtualists: Nuisance or Necessity?

Express Talk

April 15, 2019 | 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. CDT

The telemedicine experience for pediatric and adolescent patients is changing as technology and high-speed internet becomes more ubiquitous and integrated into daily life. Subsequently, more patients, families, and providers are expecting similar conveniences from their health care experience, and are increasingly comfortable with a virtual care experience. Yet virtual care is not a one-size-fits-all model, a notion which is particularly true in vulnerable populations and those seeking mental health care. The professional medical virtualist understands these unique considerations, and adeptly applies them in the appropriate scenarios. This advanced communication skill is being taught in some medical schools, nursing schools, and training programs; yet formal training and privileging of telemedicine practitioners is neither consistent nor required throughout the industry at this time.

This session will present a framework for training medical virtualist, with an emphasis on unique considerations for providing virtual care to vulnerable populations. We will share experiences of two children’s hospitals which differ in culture, reimbursement, and regulations related to provision of virtual care to children and adolescents, and highlight how those drivers impact the delivery of virtual care. We will discuss the journey in making privileging a requirement, and review obstacles from the perspectives of other organizations who have intentionally chosen not to require privileging. We will summarize current regulations, recommendations, and available resources for training. We will discuss successes and pitfalls, what to anticipate in the training process, as well as provide examples of a multimodal approach to a telehealth training curriculum anchored in adult learning theories (eg. experiential learning, interactive techniques, simulation-based sessions).


  • Mark Lo, MD, Telehealth and Digital Health Medical Director, Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • Dana Schinasi, MD, Medical Director, Telehealth Programs; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago