Teleconsultation and videoconsultation forever?

  • Sanitas Digital Hospital
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... Every year, it takes care of approximately 234 million GP consultations and 103 million specialised medical consultations 23 . Telemedicine alone cannot solve all clinical demands, but according to some studies, up to 75% of face-to-face visits can be resolved remotely 24 . A profound change in the health care model will be necessary to reach this figure; however, if we take the digital consultation rate of 25% witnessed in our sample and extrapolate this rate to apply it to telehealth solutions across Spain, we can guess that it could have led to 84.2 million digital consultations had it been used throughout the health system. ...
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Digital health can reduce CO2 emissions thanks to telemedicine and access to digital test results and medical reports. However, the environmental impact of digital health activity is not well known. Here, we show that telemedicine reduces CO2 emissions. We found a net total of 6,655 tons of CO2 emissions decrease through a reduction in patient travel to surgeries and medical clinics thanks to the alternatives of digital appointments and digital access to test results and medical reports, which avoid the need to travel to a clinic for a face-to-face visit or to pick up printed results or reports. During 2020, a total of 640,122 digital appointments were carried out by the health care company, which avoided 1,957 net tons of CO2 emissions, while patients downloaded 3,064,646 digital medical reports through the company portal, which avoided an additional 4,698 net tons of CO2 emissions. Our results demonstrate how digital appointments and digital reports, reduce CO2 emissions by reducing the need for patient travel.
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Background and Aim: Telehealth has become the standard of care during the COVID-19 outbreak. This study aimed to assess doctor and patient satisfaction of endoscopy-related telehealth clinics with video consultations. Methods: A prospective observational study of patients consecutively booked to attend two endoscopy-related telehealth clinics at an ambulatory tertiary care setting was conducted from July to October 2020. Data collected from our previously published study using phone consultations (data collected in April–May 2020) were used as a control arm. The primary outcome (satisfaction) was assessed through the sixquestion score (6Q_score) as per previous research. Secondary outcomes included failure-to-attend (FTA) rate and perceived necessity of physical examination/in-person follow-up appointment. Results: There were 962 endoscopy clinic appointments between July and October, of which 157 were conducted through video. Data on 127 doctor questionnaires and 94 patient questionnaires were analyzed. The median age (years) of patients reviewed via video [57, interquartile range (IQR) 48–66] was lower than those reviewed via phone (65, IQR 55–74, P < 0.01). Patient average 6Q_score was higher with video compared to phone (85.1% vs 78.4%, P = 0.01), as was doctors’ 6Q_score (97.5% vs 91.9%, P = 0.02). FTA rates remained similar between the two assessments (6.4% in April/May and 4.4% between July/October, P = 0.12). The requirement for in-person follow-up/physical examination was identified in two video consultations (1.6%). Conclusion: Video consultations during the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated higher patient and doctor satisfaction compared to phone consultations. There was no significant difference in FTA rates and need for in-person follow-up consultations/physical examination between the telehealth two modalities.
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Introduction: Digital health facilitates patient-centered, accessible, safe, and more efficient care, through technologies such as telemedicine, big data, bots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. Undoubtedly, its implementation has been accelerated thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, where they have demonstrated their effectiveness, by maintaining continuity of care and facilitating early interventions thanks to the analysis of data and the deployment of bots, telemonitoring and virtual care platforms. Objective and methods: Prospective observational study to describe the digital health solutions implemented by Sanitas hospitals, a health insurance company with around 2 million costumers, 5 teaching hospitals and many outpatient health care facilities throughout Spain, to maintain continuity of care during COVID-19 pandemic. We outline the results of using the Sanitas telemedicine platform (video consultations and Connected Health application) and chatbot. Results: During the first 2 months of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have experienced an exponential increase in the number of video consultations, coming from an average of 300 a day before the COVID-19 crisis to around 5000 a day, going from 27.058 virtual visits made during 2019, to 114.598 in the first 5 months of 2020. The Connected Health mobile phone application allowed to remote monitoring 95 patients after hospital discharge for COVID-19 infection, measuring vital signs with a connected pulse oximeter, answer health questionnaires daily, and alert the medical team who received alerts for pain from 80% of patients and a decrease in oxygen saturation in 12% of cases. Bots has also helped to fight the COVID-19 crisis, making information available by providing the best answer to patients whenever they want it 24/7. Our bot SanIA has experienced 16.858 consultations about COVID-19 during the first 2 months of the outbreak. Conclusions: Digital health, throughout video consultations, telemonitoring platform and bots, has helped to maintain continuity of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a sudden change in the adoption of digital health strategies, which will undoubtedly continue in the long term, and has served us, both health staff and the population, to be better prepared for this next digital age.
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Importance Older adults who are homebound and have low income have limited access to psychosocial treatments because of their homebound state and geriatric mental health workforce shortages. Objective To evaluate clinical effectiveness of a brief, aging service–integrated, videoconferenced behavioral activation (tele-BA) treatment delivered by lay counselors compared with videoconferenced problem-solving therapy (tele-PST) delivered by licensed clinicians and attention control (AC; telephone support calls). Design, Setting, and Participants This 3-group randomized clinical trial using a randomization prior to consent approach included individuals aged 50 years or older who were homebound and had 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores of 15 or greater between February 15, 2016, and April 15, 2019. Tele-BA and tele-PST participants received 5 weekly treatment sessions. Assessments were performed at baseline and 12, 24, and 36 weeks after baseline. Intention-to-treat statistical analyses were performed from January 1, 2020, to February 15, 2020. Interventions Tele-BA participants were taught 5 steps for reinforcing healthy behaviors to improve mood, physical functioning, and social engagement. Tele-PST participants were taught a 7-step approach for problem solving coping skills. Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was the 24-item HAMD scores. Response (ie, ≥50% reduction in HAMD) and remission (ie, HAMD <10) rates and effect sizes for clinically meaningful differences were examined. Secondary outcomes were disability, social engagement and activity frequency, and satisfaction with participation in social roles. Results A total of 277 participants were enrolled, including 193 (69.7%) women, 83 (30.0%) who were Black, 81 (29.2%) who were Hispanic, and 255 (92.1%) with income of $35 000 or less. The mean (SD) age was 67.5 (8.9) years. Among these, 90 participants were randomized to tele-BA, 93 participants were randomized to tele-PST, and 94 participants were randomized to the AC. Compared with participants in the AC group, participants in the tele-BA and tele-PST groups had significantly higher response and remission rates and medium to large effect sizes (tele-BA: raw growth modeling analysis d = 0.62 [95% CI, 0.35 to 0.89]; P < .001; tele-PST: raw growth modeling analysis d = 1.00 [95% CI, 0.73 to 1.26]; P < .001) for HAMD scores. While tele-PST was significantly more effective than tele-BA for reducing HAMD scores (t258 = −2.79; P = .006), there was no difference between tele-BA and tele-PST on secondary outcomes. Conclusions and Relevance In this randomized clinical trial, participants who received tele-BA by lay counselors achieved statistically and clinically meaningful changes in depressive symptoms. Given shortages of licensed mental health clinicians, tele- and lay counselor–delivered services may help improve access to evidence-based depression treatment for large numbers of underserved older adults. Trial Registration Identifier: NCT02600754.
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The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patient-centered medical home model, Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT), includes telephone visits to improve care access and efficiency. Scheduled telephone visits can replace in-person care for some focused issues, and more information is needed to understand how this mode can best work for primary care. We conducted a study at the beginning of PACT implementation to elicit stakeholder views on this mode of healthcare delivery, including potential facilitators and barriers. We conducted focus groups with primary care patients (n = 3 groups), providers (n = 2 groups) and staff (n = 2 groups). Questions were informed by Donabedian's framework to evaluate and improve healthcare quality. Content analysis and theme matrix techniques were used to explore themes. Content was assigned a positive or negative valuation to indicate whether it was a facilitator or barrier. PACT principles were used as an organizing framework to present stakeholder responses within the context of the VHA patient-centered medical home program. Scheduled telephone visits could potentially improve care quality and efficiency, but stakeholders were cautious. Themes were identified relating to the following PACT principles: comprehensiveness, patient-centeredness, and continuity of care. In sum, scheduled telephone visits were viewed as potentially beneficial for routine care not requiring physical examination, and patients and providers suggested using them to evaluate need for in-person care; however, visits would need to be individualized, with patients able to discontinue if not satisfied. Patients and staff asserted that providers would need to be kept in the loop for continuity of care. Additionally, providers and staff emphasized needing protected time for these calls. These findings inform development of scheduled telephone visits as part of patient-centered medical homes by providing evidence about areas that may be leveraged to most effectively implement this mode of care. Presenting this service as enhanced care, with ability to triage need for in-person clinic visits and consequently provide more frequent contact, may most adequately meet different stakeholder expectations. In this way, scheduled telephone visits may serve as both a substitute for in-person care for certain situations and a supplement to in-person interaction.
RESUMEN La pandemia producida por la infección por el coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) ha cambiado la forma de entender nuestras consultas. Para reducir el riesgo de contagio de los pacientes más vulnerables (aquellos con cardiopatías) y del personal sanitario, se han suspendido la mayoría de las consultas presenciales y se han puesto en marcha las consultas telemáticas. Este cambio se ha implementado en muy poco tiempo, pero parece que ha venido para quedarse. No obstante, hay grandes dudas sobre aspectos organizativos, legales, posibilidades de mejora, etc. En este documento de consenso de la Sociedad Española de Cardiología, tratamos de dar las claves para mejorar la calidad asistencial en nuestras nuevas consultas telemáticas, revisando las afecciones que el cardiólogo clínico atiende con más frecuencia en su consulta ambulatoria y proponiendo unos mínimos en ese proceso asistencial. Estas enfermedades son la cardiopatía isquémica, la insuficiencia cardiaca y las arritmias. En los 3 escenarios tratamos de clarificar los aspectos fundamentales que hay que revisar en la entrevista telefónica, a qué pacientes habrá que atender en una consulta presencial y cuáles serán los criterios para su seguimiento en atención primaria. El documento también recoge distintas mejoras que pueden introducirse en la consulta telemática para mejorar la asistencia de nuestros pacientes.
An integrated delivery system introduced video-visit capability for all clinicians in 2014. More than 150,000 patients participated in video visits from 2015 through 2017. Patient satisfaction was high; 93% of surveyed patients reported that their video visit met their needs.
Introduction: Health systems are seeking innovative solutions to improve specialty care access. Electronic consultations (eConsults) allow specialists to provide formal clinical recommendations to primary care providers (PCPs) based on patient chart review, without a face-to-face visit. Methods: We implemented a nephrology eConsult pilot program within a large, academic primary care practice to facilitate timely communication between nephrologists and PCPs. We used primary care referral data to compare wait times and completion rates between traditional referrals and eConsults. We surveyed PCPs to assess satisfaction with the program. Results: For traditional nephrology referrals placed during the study period (July 2016-March 2017), there was a 51-day median appointment wait time and a 40.9% referral completion rate. For eConsults, there was a median nephrologist response time of one day and a 100% completion rate; 67.5% of eConsults did not require a subsequent face-to-face specialty appointment. For eConsults that were converted to an in-person visit, the median wait time and completion rate were 40 days and 73.1%, respectively. Compared to traditional referrals placed during the study period, eConsults converted to in-person visits were more likely to be completed ( p = 0.001). Survey responses revealed that PCPs were highly satisfied with the program and consider the quick turnaround time as the greatest benefit. Discussion: Our eConsult pilot program reduced nephrology wait times and significantly increased referral completion rates. In large integrated health systems, eConsults have considerable potential to improve access to specialty care, reduce unnecessary appointments, and optimize the patient population being seen by specialists.
Objectives: Most outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) services use a hospital-based model of care in which patients remain in proximity to large hospitals facilitating clinical review. We aimed to evaluate clinical outcomes and complication rates for patients living in geographically isolated locations managed by telemedicine-supported OPAT. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study. Results: Between 2011 and 2015, we delivered 88 episodes of care involving 83 adult patients resulting in 2261 days of OPAT. The median age was 56 years, 8 of 83 (10%) were indigenous Australian and the median Charlson comorbidity index score was 2 (IQR 1-4). The median distance of patients' residence from our hospital was 288 km (IQR 201-715) and the median duration on the programme was 26 days (IQR 14-34). Bone and joint infections accounted for 75% of infections treated. Favourable clinical outcomes (improvement or cure) were achieved in 87% of patients and the unplanned, OPAT-related readmission rate was 8%. Nineteen percent and 10% of patients had drug-related and line-related adverse effects, respectively. Conclusions: Despite a complex case mix, our adverse event and readmission rates are similar to the published literature describing a non-telemedicine model to deliver OPAT. High rates of favourable clinical outcomes and likely cost benefits suggest that telemedicine-supported OPAT is an efficacious and safe substitute for inpatient care in our setting.
The aim of this policy statement is to provide a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence evaluating the use of telemedicine in cardiovascular and stroke care and to provide consensus policy suggestions. We evaluate the effectiveness of telehealth in advancing healthcare quality, identify legal and regulatory barriers that impede telehealth adoption or delivery, propose steps to overcome these barriers, and identify areas for future research to ensure that telehealth continues to enhance the quality of cardiovascular and stroke care. The result of these efforts is designed to promote telehealth models that ensure better patient access to high-quality cardiovascular and stroke care while striving for optimal protection of patient safety and privacy.
Background: Telemedicine (TM) is the use of telecommunication systems to deliver health care at a distance. It has the potential to improve patient health outcomes, access to health care and reduce healthcare costs. As TM applications continue to evolve it is important to understand the impact TM might have on patients, healthcare professionals and the organisation of care. Objectives: To assess the effectiveness, acceptability and costs of interactive TM as an alternative to, or in addition to, usual care (i.e. face-to-face care, or telephone consultation). Search methods: We searched the Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group's specialised register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, five other databases and two trials registers to June 2013, together with reference checking, citation searching, handsearching and contact with study authors to identify additional studies. Selection criteria: We considered randomised controlled trials of interactive TM that involved direct patient-provider interaction and was delivered in addition to, or substituting for, usual care compared with usual care alone, to participants with any clinical condition. We excluded telephone only interventions and wholly automatic self-management TM interventions. Data collection and analysis: For each condition, we pooled outcome data that were sufficiently homogenous using fixed effect meta-analysis. We reported risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for dichotomous outcomes, and mean differences (MD) for continuous outcomes. Main results: We included 93 eligible trials (N = 22,047 participants), which evaluated the effectiveness of interactive TM delivered in addition to (32% of studies), as an alternative to (57% of studies), or partly substituted for usual care (11%) as compared to usual care alone.The included studies recruited patients with the following clinical conditions: cardiovascular disease (36), diabetes (21), respiratory conditions (9), mental health or substance abuse conditions (7), conditions requiring a specialist consultation (6), co morbidities (3), urogenital conditions (3), neurological injuries and conditions (2), gastrointestinal conditions (2), neonatal conditions requiring specialist care (2), solid organ transplantation (1), and cancer (1).Telemedicine provided remote monitoring (55 studies), or real-time video-conferencing (38 studies), which was used either alone or in combination. The main TM function varied depending on clinical condition, but fell typically into one of the following six categories, with some overlap: i) monitoring of a chronic condition to detect early signs of deterioration and prompt treatment and advice, (41); ii) provision of treatment or rehabilitation (12), for example the delivery of cognitive behavioural therapy, or incontinence training; iii) education and advice for self-management (23), for example nurses delivering education to patients with diabetes or providing support to parents of very low birth weight infants or to patients with home parenteral nutrition; iv) specialist consultations for diagnosis and treatment decisions (8), v) real-time assessment of clinical status, for example post-operative assessment after minor operation or follow-up after solid organ transplantation (8) vi), screening, for angina (1).The type of data transmitted by the patient, the frequency of data transfer, (e.g. telephone, e-mail, SMS) and frequency of interactions between patient and healthcare provider varied across studies, as did the type of healthcare provider/s and healthcare system involved in delivering the intervention.We found no difference between groups for all-cause mortality for patients with heart failure (16 studies; N = 5239; RR:0.89, 95% CI 0.76 to 1.03, P = 0.12; I(2) = 44%) (moderate to high certainty of evidence) at a median of six months follow-up. Admissions to hospital (11 studies; N = 4529) ranged from a decrease of 64% to an increase of 60% at median eight months follow-up (moderate certainty of evidence). We found some evidence of improved quality of life (five studies; N = 482; MD:-4.39, 95% CI -7.94 to -0.83; P < 0.02; I(2) = 0%) (moderate certainty of evidence) for those allocated to TM as compared with usual care at a median three months follow-up. In studies recruiting participants with diabetes (16 studies; N = 2768) we found lower glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c %) levels in those allocated to TM than in controls (MD -0.31, 95% CI -0.37 to -0.24; P < 0.00001; I(2)= 42%, P = 0.04) (high certainty of evidence) at a median of nine months follow-up. We found some evidence for a decrease in LDL (four studies, N = 1692; MD -12.45, 95% CI -14.23 to -10.68; P < 0.00001; I(2 =) 0%) (moderate certainty of evidence), and blood pressure (four studies, N = 1770: MD: SBP:-4.33, 95% CI -5.30 to -3.35, P < 0.00001; I(2) = 17%; DBP: -2.75 95% CI -3.28 to -2.22, P < 0.00001; I(2) = 45% (moderate certainty evidence), in TM as compared with usual care.Seven studies that recruited participants with different mental health and substance abuse problems, reported no differences in the effect of therapy delivered over video-conferencing, as compared to face-to-face delivery. Findings from the other studies were inconsistent; there was some evidence that monitoring via TM improved blood pressure control in participants with hypertension, and a few studies reported improved symptom scores for those with a respiratory condition. Studies recruiting participants requiring mental health services and those requiring specialist consultation for a dermatological condition reported no differences between groups. Authors' conclusions: The findings in our review indicate that the use of TM in the management of heart failure appears to lead to similar health outcomes as face-to-face or telephone delivery of care; there is evidence that TM can improve the control of blood glucose in those with diabetes. The cost to a health service, and acceptability by patients and healthcare professionals, is not clear due to limited data reported for these outcomes. The effectiveness of TM may depend on a number of different factors, including those related to the study population e.g. the severity of the condition and the disease trajectory of the participants, the function of the intervention e.g., if it is used for monitoring a chronic condition, or to provide access to diagnostic services, as well as the healthcare provider and healthcare system involved in delivering the intervention.
Rapidly converting to “Virtual Practices”: Outpatient care in the era of Covid-19
  • Mehrotra
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Effect of telehealth treatment by lay counselors vs by clinicians on depressive symptoms among older adults who are homebound: A randomized clinical trial
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Telehealth: The right care, at the right time, via the right medium
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How an Ohio-based physician organization overcame internal hurdles and launched a telehealth service as Covid-19 shutdowns loomed
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Do not let a good crisis go to waste: Health care’s path forward with virtual care
  • Shah
Shah R, Schulman K. Do not let a good crisis go to waste: Health care's path forward with virtual care. NEJM Catalyst. 2021,
WHO guideline: Recommendations on digital interventions for health system strengthening. Geneva: World Health Organization
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Effect of telehealth treatment by lay counselors vs by clinicians on depressive symptoms among older adults who are homebound: A randomized clinical trial
  • N G Choi
  • C N Marti
  • N L Wilson
  • G J Chen
  • L Sirrianni
  • M T Hegel
Choi NG, Marti CN, Wilson NL, Chen GJ, Sirrianni L, Hegel MT, et al. Effect of telehealth treatment by lay counselors vs by clinicians on depressive symptoms among older adults who are homebound: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3:e2015648.
  • L E Schwamm
  • N Chumbler
  • E Brown
  • G C Fonarow
  • D Berube
  • K Nystrom
Schwamm LE, Chumbler N, Brown E, Fonarow GC, Berube D, Nystrom K, et al., On behalf of the American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Recommendations for the implementation of telehealth in cardiovascular and stroke care: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e24e44.