[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
In many health systems, specialist services for critically ill children are typically regionalised or centralised. Studies have shown that high-risk paediatric patients have improved survival when managed in specialist centres and that volume of cases is a predictor of care quality. In acute cases where distance and time impede access to specialist care, clinical advice may be provided remotely by telephone. Emergency retrieval services, attended by medical and nursing staff may be used to transport patients to specialist centres. Even with the best quality retrieval services, stabilisation of the patient and transport logistics may delay evacuation to definitive care. Several studies have examined the use of telemedicine for providing specialist consultations for critically ill children. However, no studies have yet formally examined the clinical effectiveness and economic implications of using telemedicine in the context of paediatric patient retrieval.Methods/DesignThe study is a pragmatic, multicentre randomised controlled trial running over 24 months which will compare the use of telemedicine with the use of the telephone for paediatric retrieval consultations between four referring hospitals and a tertiary paediatric intensive care unit. We aim to recruit 160 children for whom a specialist retrieval consultation is required. The primary outcome measure is stabilisation time (time spent on site at the referring hospital by the retrieval team) adjusted for initial risk. Secondary outcome measures are change in patient¿s physiological status (repeated measure, two time points) scored using the Children¿s Emergency Warning Tool; change in diagnosis (repeated measure taken at three time points); change in destination of retrieved patients at the tertiary hospital (general ward or paediatric intensive care unit); retrieval decision, and length of stay in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for retrieved patients. The trial has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees of Children¿s Health Services Queensland and The University of Queensland, Australia.DiscussionHealth services are adopting telemedicine, however formal evidence to support its use in paediatric acute care is limited. Generalisable evidence is required to inform clinical use and health system policy relating to the effectiveness and economic implications of the use in telemedicine in paediatric retrieval.Trial registrationAustralian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000156886.
BMC Health Services Research 11/2014; 14(1):546. · 1.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a pilot study to investigate the effectiveness of a home telehealth service for paediatric palliative care consultations. Over a 10 week period, 14 of the 17 caregivers approached to be part of the study agreed to participate. Families were allocated, non-randomly, to a control group (usual care) or an intervention group (usual care with the addition of home telehealth consultations). The primary outcome measure was quality-of-life score. Caregivers were surveyed for up to 99 days following recruitment. A descriptive analysis of the quality-of-life data showed no differences between caregivers in the two groups. However, important lessons were learnt regarding factors which influence the success of studies in this population group, and the domains of caregiver quality-of-life that warrant intervention. Palliative care is complex, and multiple interventions and supports are required if care is to be managed at home. Home telehealth consultations are a feasible and acceptable means of facilitating a palliative care consultation which can reduce the burden on families at a distressing time.
Journal of telemedicine and telecare 11/2012; · 0.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telemedicine was used as a substitute for the telephone (usual care) for some acute care consultations from nurseries at four peripheral hospitals in Queensland. Over a 12-month study period, there were 19 cases of neonatal teleconsultation. Five (26%) cases of avoided infant transport were confirmed by independent assessment, four of which were avoided helicopter retrievals. We conducted two analyses. In the first, the actual costs of providing telemedicine at the study sites were compared with the actual savings associated with confirmed avoided infant transport and nursery costs. There was a net saving to the health system of 54,400 Australian Dollars (AUD) associated with the use of telemedicine over the 12-month period. In the second analysis, we estimated the potential savings that might have been achieved if telemedicine had been used for all retrieval consultations from the study sites. The total projected costs were AUD 64,969 while the projected savings were AUD 271,042, i.e. a projected net saving to the health system of AUD 206,073 through the use of telemedicine. A sensitivity analysis suggested that the threshold proportion of retrievals needed to generate telemedicine-related savings under the study conditions was 5%. The findings suggest that from the health-service perspective, the use of telemedicine for acute care neonatal consultation has substantial economic benefits.
Journal of telemedicine and telecare 11/2012; · 0.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the cost-effectiveness of sample size maintenance programs in a prospective cohort.
The Living with Diabetes Study in Queensland, Australia is a longitudinal survey providing a comprehensive examination of health care utilization and disease progression among people with diabetes. Data from this study were used to compare the cost-effectiveness of a program incorporating substitution sampling with two alternative programs: "no follow-up" and "usual practice."
A program involving substitution sampling was shown to be the most effective with an additional 3,556 complete responses (compared with a "no follow-up" program) and an additional 2,099 complete responses (compared with "usual practice"). An incremental analysis through a Monte Carlo simulation found substitution sampling to be the most cost-effective option for maintaining sample size with an incremental cost-effective ratio of $54.87 (95% uncertainty interval $52.68-$57.25) compared with $87.58 ($77.89-$100.09) for "usual practice."
Based on the available data, a program involving substitution sampling is economically justified and should be considered in any approach with the aim of maintaining sample size. There is, however, a continuing need to evaluate the effectiveness of this option on other outcome measures, such as bias.
Journal of clinical epidemiology 11/2012; 65(11):1200-11. · 5.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To identify and assess the existing cost-effectiveness evidence for sample size maintenance programs.
Articles were identified by searching Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials Embase, CINAHL, PubMed, and Web of Science from 1966 to July 2011. Randomized controlled trials in which investigators evaluated program cost-effectiveness in postal questionnaires were eligible for inclusion.
Fourteen studies from 13 articles, with 11,165 participants met the inclusion criteria. Thirty-one distinct programs were identified; each incorporated at least one strategy (reminders, incentives, modified questionnaires, or types of postage) aimed at minimizing attrition. Reminders, in the form of replacement questionnaires and cards, were the most commonly used strategies, with 15 and 11 studies reporting their usage, respectively. All strategies improved response, with financial incentives being the most costly. Heterogeneity between studies was too great to allow for meta-analysis of the results.
The implementation of strategies such as no-obligation incentives, modified questionnaires, and personalized reply paid postage improved program cost-effectiveness. Analyses of attrition minimization programs need to consider both cost and effect in their evaluation.
Journal of clinical epidemiology 07/2012; 65(10):1031-40. · 5.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 2000, the Centre for Online Health (COH) at The University of Queensland has offered a range of online eHealth courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. While online learning has a number of advantages, in some domains, it can present some challenges to the development of practical skills and experience.
To assess students' perceptions of the value of an eHealth practicum.
To supplement our online learning program, we introduced an eHealth practicum component that aimed to expose students to a range of clinically relevant learning experiences. Subsequently, by means of a questionnaire, student perceptions of the practicum were assessed.
Over two semesters, a total of 66 students participated in the eHealth practicum, and questionnaire responses were very positive. The majority of students agreed that the practicum allowed them to gain necessary skills in eHealth applications (59%) and provided them with an opportunity to explore ways of using different eHealth tools for the delivery of health care at a distance (62%).
The study shows that a practical component in eHealth teaching was well received by students. While online teaching is appropriate for providing knowledge, the opportunity to develop practical skills may encourage students to use eHealth techniques in their future practices.
Journal of Medical Internet Research 01/2012; 14(6):e182. · 4.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The increasing prevalence and earlier onset of chronic health conditions amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has become a concerning and significant problem. Telehealth may be a useful application for the early detection, monitoring, and treatment of chronic diseases such as ear disease and vision impairment. This study evaluates whether it is feasible to integrate a mobile telemedicine-enabled ear and eye-screening service with existing community-based services for Australian indigenous children.
A collaborative service was established with the local community and delivered from a van fitted with screening equipment and telemedicine capabilities. Indigenous children (0-16 years) were assessed at school by an aboriginal health worker for conditions impacting hearing and vision. Screening data and video-otoscopic images were uploaded to a database and made accessible to specialists via a secure Web site. Those children who failed an ear-screening assessment, tele-otology clinics were conducted remotely by an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who reviewed cases and provided a diagnosis and treatment plan. Similarly, children who failed vision assessments were referred to an optometrist for follow-up care.
During the first 6 months, the service visited 12 of the 16 schools in the region, screening 442 of the 760 consented children (58%). Of the 183 (41%) children who failed ear screening, 59 were reviewed remotely by an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, with 9 children booked for surgery. Three hundred and four or 41% of the consenting children completed an eye assessment, in which 46 (15%) failed and required referral to the optometrist.
It is feasible to integrate a mobile telehealth screening service with existing community-based services to provide specialist review and treatment planning at a distance. Community consultation, engagement, and collaboration in all areas of the project have been important.
Telemedicine and e-Health 10/2010; 16(9):950-6. · 1.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Children with life limiting conditions require intensive, complex management of the physical, psychosocial and spiritual issues that evolve for the child and their family as the focus of care moves from curative treatment to palliation. Optimal palliative care for children can be limited by the lack of health professionals with the necessary skills and experience to confidently and competently manage the care of both the child and the family. The University of Queensland's Centre for Online Health has been working closely with the Paediatric Palliative Care Service (PPCS) at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) in Brisbane, Australia, to investigate the potential of telemedicine for the delivery of specialist support in the home or local community. Research conducted in Queensland has shown how telemedicine can be effectively used to link the specialist paediatric palliative care team into the home of families caring for a child receiving palliative care, regardless of their physical distance from the RCH. This qualitative report describes two case studies, each illustrating the value of home telemedicine for families at this vulnerable and distressing time. This work should provide a useful insight for other specialty disciplines contemplating home telemedicine applications.
Studies in health technology and informatics 01/2010; 161:10-9.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Videotelephony (real-time audio-visual communication) has been used successfully in adult palliative home care. This paper describes two attempts to complete an RCT (both of which were abandoned following difficulties with family recruitment), designed to investigate the use of videotelephony with families receiving palliative care from a tertiary paediatric oncology service in Brisbane, Australia. To investigate whether providing videotelephone-based support was acceptable to these families, a 12-month non-randomised acceptability trial was completed. Seventeen palliative care families were offered access to a videotelephone support service in addition to the 24 hours ‘on-call’ service already offered. A 92% participation rate in this study provided some reassurance that the use of videotelephones themselves was not a factor in poor RCT participation rates. The next phase of research is to investigate the integration of videotelephone-based support from the time of diagnosis, through outpatient care and support, and for palliative care rather than for palliative care in isolation. Trial registration ACTRN 12606000311550
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As part of the preparation for a randomized controlled trial, we conducted a pilot study to investigate the feasibility of providing videotelephone-based support to a sample of families (n = 8) with a child diagnosed with cancer, returning home for the first time after diagnosis and initial treatment. Seven of these families received support via videotelephone over a three-month period. Twenty videotelephone calls were made totalling 400 minutes (median 21 min, IQR 16-24). All videotelephone calls involved the specialist nurse providing support to mothers (85%) or fathers (15%) and involved communicating directly with the patient in most of the calls (55%). Social workers were involved in three calls (15%). All families expressed satisfaction with services delivered in this way. There were few technical problems. The use of a hybrid approach to providing videotelephony, using the family home computer and Internet connection for video and the home telephone line for full-duplex audio, was less costly than the custom-made device used in past studies.
Journal of telemedicine and telecare 02/2008; 14(6):315-21. · 0.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Each of 130 studies about home telehealth was independently rated by three reviewers in terms of patient selection, specification of interventions, specification of analysis, patient disposal and outcomes reported. The mean ratings of study quality were used to calculate an overall decision-making score. From the decision-making score, a net evidence score was derived for each of the 26 diseases/conditions identified. The mean decision-making score, combining study design and quality ratings, was used for comparison with a preliminary report prepared in 2006. The inclusion of ratings of study quality strengthened and confirmed the original findings. In summary, there are good to high quality studies supporting the use of home telehealth in the areas of diabetes, the general area of mental health, high-risk pregnancy monitoring, heart failure, other cardiac conditions and smoking cessation. Incorporating the rating of study quality in systematic reviews is an important step which provides additional information about the strength of evidence available.
Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 12/2007; · 1.74 Impact Factor