Telemedicine for the treatment of asthma is as effective as an in-person visit, a new study has found. The study, published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, also said there were high levels of satisfaction among kids and their parents, regarding the long-distance care.
Telemedicine is the diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
For the study, patients who scheduled an appointment to be seen for asthma in an allergy clinic and lived long distances from the hospital were identified. And, they were given a choice — either to continue the in-person visit or opt for the telemedicine route.
The study then followed their cases for the next six months.
The telemedicine sessions allowed the allergist to see and hear the patient in real-time, and to pan and zoom a wide-angle camera. There was a digital stethoscope for listening to heart and lungs, and a digital otoscope for examining ears and nose.
Results of the study
“All of those seen — whether in the clinic or by telemedicine — showed an improvement in asthma control over the 6 months,” said allergist Chitra Dinakar, MD, ACAAI Fellow and study author.
“We were encouraged because sometimes those with the greatest need for an asthma specialist live in underserved areas such as rural or inner-city communities where allergists aren’t always available. The study shows these kids can get effective care from a specialist, even if they don’t happen to live close to where an allergist practices.”
‘Helps patients to be more involved in their own care’
Another study found evidences of telemedicine helping manage chronic diseases, such as congestive heart failure, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
It contended that telemedicine can yield clear benefits, including fewer and shorter hospital stays, fewer emergency room visits, less severe illness, and even fewer deaths.
The advantages enabled by telemedicine derive from its ability to help patients become more involved in their own care, facilitate continuous monitoring and early detection of new and recurring symptoms, and allow for prompt responses to worsening illness.