Use of synchronous digital health technologies for care delivery to children with special health care needs (having a chronic physical, behavioral, developmental, or emotional condition in combination with high resource use) and their families at home has shown promise for improving outcomes and increasing access to care for this medically fragile and resource-intensive population. However, a comprehensive description of the various models of synchronous home digital health interventions does not exist, nor has the impact of such interventions been summarized to date.
We aim to describe the various models of synchronous home digital health that have been used in pediatric populations with special health care needs, their outcomes, and implementation barriers.
A systematic scoping review of the literature was conducted, guided by the Arksey and O’Malley Scoping Review Framework. MEDLINE, CINAHL, and EMBASE databases were searched from inception to June 2018, and the reference lists of the included systematic reviews and high-impact journals were hand-searched.
A total of 38 articles were included in this review. Interventional articles are described as feasibility studies, studies that aim to provide direct care to children with special health care needs, and studies that aim to support family members to deliver care to children with special health care needs. End-user involvement in the design and implementation of studies is evaluated using a human-centered design framework, and factors affecting the implementation of digital health programs are discussed in relation to technological, human, and systems factors.
The use of digital health to care for children with special health care needs presents an opportunity to leverage the capacity of technology to connect patients and their families to much-needed care from expert health care providers while avoiding the expenses and potential harms of the hospital-based care system. Strategies to scale and spread pilot studies, such as involving end users in the co-design techniques, are needed to optimize digital health programs for children with special health care needs.