Harnessing the power of telemedicine to accomplish international pediatric outcome research during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sarah B. Mulkey*, Margarita Arroyave-Wessel, Colleen Peyton, Emily Ansusinha, Corina Gutierrez, Andrea Sorkar, Andres Cure, Yhina Samper, Daniela Cure, Michael E. Msall, Carlos Cure

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic occurred during planned neurodevelopmental follow-up of Colombian children with antenatal Zika-virus exposure. The objective of the study was to leverage the institution's telemedicine infrastructure to support international clinical child outcome research. In a prospective cohort study of child neurodevelopment (NCT04398901), we used synchronous telemedicine to remotely train a research team and perform live observational assessments of children in Sabanalarga, Colombia. An observational motor and conceptional standardized tool kit was mailed to Colombia; other materials were translated and emailed; team training was done virtually. Children were recruited by team on the ground. Synchronous activities were video-recorded directly to two laptops, each with a telehealth Zoom link to allow simultaneous evaluation of “table” and “standing” activities, and backup recordings were captured directly on the device in Colombia. The U.S. team attended live over Zoom from four states and five distinct locations, made observational notes, and provided real-time feedback. Fifty-seven, 3–4-year-old children with Zika-virus exposure and 70 non-exposed controls were studied during 10 daytrips. Direct laptop recording ensured complete record of child activities due to internet outages. Telemedicine can be used to successfully perform international neurodevelopmental outcome research in children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine can benefit global health studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Colombia
  • Telemedicine
  • Zika virus
  • child health research
  • international
  • virtual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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