Lopez Family Foundation International Telehealth Program

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, in partnership with the Lopez Family Foundation, launched the Lopez Family Foundation International Telehealth Program in September 2010. The program provides specialized health care services to approach the needs of children globally -- with an initial focus in Latin America -- through innovative videoconferencing technology.

The first collaborations between Children’s Hospital and the Lopez Family Foundation have focused on establishing a telehealth presence in Puerto Rico and Panama. Together, we look to expand the telehealth network to areas in need around the globe.

Telehealth Efforts in Puerto Rico

Children’s Hospital and the Lopez Family Foundation are working with two hospitals in Puerto Rico:

  • University Pediatric Hospital Dr. Antonio Ortiz - This medical center is the main pediatric referral center for the island and the Caribbean region.
  • San Jorge Children’s Hospital - This hospital serves as a secondary referral center for some of the most seriously ill children in San Juan and throughout the island.

Through close collaboration between our hospital and the hospitals above, Radiology and Genetics services emerged as two areas where our expert teams could have the greatest impact on the health of critically ill children within Puerto Rico.

To provide patient care, physicians use telemedicine technology to diagnose medical conditions, speak with patients and families when needed, and participate in collaborative case discussions with local clinicians. Our doctors also use the same infrastructure to collaborate on case discussions, training sessions and broadcast lectures.

  • Tele-Genetics
  • Tele-Radiology
  • Tele-Education

Puerto Rican children who are insured through Reforma (equivalent to Medicaid), have only a single pediatric geneticist on the island to whom they may be referred. Wait times for new appointments with the geneticist can be up to 1.5 years. In some cases, children who live in remote parts of the island simply go without specialist consultation. 

Linda Randolph, MD, Division Head of Medical Genetics, conducts detailed history taking and uses digital ophthalmoscopes and stethoscopes connected to state-of-the-art telehealth stations to review digitally sent patient medical records for remote review and testing, which allows her to provide accurate diagnosis and treatment plans for patients thousands of miles away.

In addition, we have partnered with a local laboratory to perform genetic testing. This allows patients in Puerto Rico the opportunity to benefit from our expertise in new medical developments and discoveries, including, for example, chromosomal testing.

Currently, Dr. Randolph provides a bi-weekly tele-genetics consultation to children in Puerto Rico. In February 2015, Susanna Sorrentino, MD joined the program, which brings our schedule to a weekly tele-genetics clinic.

Puerto Rico suffers from a dearth of pediatric radiologists, which in some instances can mean that interpretations for complex cases are delayed. In an effort to alleviate this issue, the Lopez Family Foundation has teamed up with Children’s Hospital to assist pediatric radiologists on the island by providing remote second-opinion consultation for complex cases through telemedicine.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the Lopez Family Foundation provide Hospital San Jorge with:

  • Remote second-opinion of computed tomography (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of critically-ill children by the experts at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles via live link to Puerto Rico from Los Angeles
  • Case discussion of reviewed studies to provide mutual learning opportunities

The Tele-Radiology program also provides medical training for radiology residents at the University of Puerto Rico Pediatric Hospital. Monthly archived case review sessions with local radiology residents and staff — as well as regularly broadcasted lectures — will help raise their level of expertise and expose the teams to new medical topics across different specialty areas.

Tele-Education is another major focus of our telehealth program in Puerto Rico. Children's Hospital physicians who have academic appointments as faculty at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, provide educational lectures on specific topics chosen by the residents in accordance with the residency curriculum in our partner hospitals and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ learning objectives. 

These lectures are conducted live like a “virtual classroom," which allows residents to interact with prominent faculty at Children’s Hospital just like they would in an in-person classroom. In addition, these lectures are recorded for residents who may have missed the live lecture and can thus be used by future program partners as a resource. 

The recorded Pediatric Board Review sessions can be found in the Lopez Family Foundation Health Video Library with limited access to partners.

Telemedicine Efforts in Panama

In June 2012, Children's Hospital and the Lopez Family Foundation launched a second telehealth program in Panama. Together, they are working with three major pediatric centers, one rural hospital and three rural clinics in Panama:

  • Hospital Del Niño - This medical center is the main pediatric referral center in Panama.
  • Specialty Children’s Hospital - This hospital serves as a secondary referral center for some of the most seriously ill children in Panama City and throughout the country.
  • Hospital Obaldia - This medical center is the main pediatric referral hospital in the West of Panama located in the City of David, Chiriqui. Seriously ill children coming from the remote regions of Comarca Ngobe-Bugle are treated and cared for in this hospital.
  • Hospital San Felix - This rural hospital provides primary and general care for the indigenous population of Comarca Ngobe-Bugle. Cases that cannot be treated or cared for at the rural health clinics are referred to this hospital.
  • Three Rural Health Clinics - Hato Juli, Hato Chami, and Cerro Iglesias are the three rural clinics providing basic health care services to the indigenous population in the remote regions of Comarca Ngobe-Bugle.
  • Tele-Education
  • Case Conference

Similar to our Puerto Rico program, Children’s Hospital provides monthly keynote lectures to the medical community including specialists, primary care providers, fellows, residents and interns working at our partner hospitals in Panama. The topics are chosen by Panamanian physicians. The keynote lectures are also recorded and archived in the Lopez Family Foundation Health Video Library, with limited access to our partners.

Children’s Hospital and Panamanian physicians participate in case conferences on an ad-hoc basis to discuss complex, interesting and unusual cases to develop the most appropriate treatment plans. Case conferences are organized with multidisciplinary teams from both hospitals coming together conveniently using telemedicine technology.

Future Programmatic Endeavors

We are currently engaged in exploratory conversations with hospitals in other Latin American countries to assess the viability of developing similar programs in a network approach to telemedicine care. We plan to work closely with the Lopez Family Foundation to deploy medical services using a similar approach in other countries in the near future. We will also continue to explore educational opportunities, such as resident exchange programs, and identify other partners to collaborate with in delivering specialized health care services to children in Latin America and throughout the world.

Award and Recognition

In May 2013, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) awarded Jennifer Lopez and the Lopez Family Foundation with the first-ever Humanitarian Award for their efforts in telehealth through their partnership with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

See the official announcement and a video message from Jennifer Lopez.