Regional pediatric disaster network guides statewide telehealth initiation during COVID-19 pandemic


  • Brian S. Marcus, MD
  • Christopher Newton, MD
  • Sarah A. Rafton, MSW
  • Nancy Belcher, PhD, MPA
  • Jeb Shepard, BA
  • Milissa Chanice, BS
  • Todd Williams, BS
  • Hal Quinn, MD
  • Mary A. King, MD, MPH



telehealth, COVID-19, disaster, network


Background: Telehealth emerged early as an important tool to provide clinical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, but statewide implementation strategies were lacking.

Needs assessment: We performed a needs assessment at 15 pediatrics clinics in Washington regarding their ability to institute telehealth. Fourteen clinics (93 percent response rate) responded; none had ability to perform telehealth visits. Clinics needed the following specific support structures: (1) an easily implementable, low-cost system, and (2) parity billing for telehealth services.

Disaster effort: Two weeks after the needs assessment was performed, we facilitated direct telehealth initiation support to 45 Washington clinics and created a coalition of statewide advocacy groups. These groups advocated for (1) a statewide solution for non-network or poorly resourced providers, which was delivered by the WA Health Care Authority, and (2) parity billing, which was delivered by emergency governor action.

Conclusion: Engagement with our regional pediatric disaster network was essential in providing guidance and expertise in this needs assessment, telehealth initiation process, and subsequent advocacy efforts. The power we have as pediatricians to coordinate with regional experts helped improve access to telehealth across Washington.

Author Biographies

Brian S. Marcus, MD

University of Washington Pediatric Residency Program, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, Washington

Christopher Newton, MD

Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management, San Francisco, California; UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, San Francisco, California

Sarah A. Rafton, MSW

Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Seattle, Washington

Nancy Belcher, PhD, MPA

King County Medical Society, Seattle, Washington

Jeb Shepard, BA

Washington State Medical Association, Seattle, Washington

Milissa Chanice, BS

Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management, Seattle, Washington

Todd Williams, BS

Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management, Seattle, Washington

Hal Quinn, MD

Mercer Island Pediatrics, Mercer Island, Washington

Mary A. King, MD, MPH

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, Washington; Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management, Seattle, Washington


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How to Cite

Marcus, MD, B. S., C. Newton, MD, S. A. Rafton, MSW, N. Belcher, PhD, MPA, J. Shepard, BA, M. Chanice, BS, T. Williams, BS, H. Quinn, MD, and M. A. King, MD, MPH. “Regional Pediatric Disaster Network Guides Statewide Telehealth Initiation During COVID-19 Pandemic”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 17, no. 2, Apr. 2022, pp. 163-9, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2022.0430.