According to a new study, using telemedicine for home health management of obstructive sleep apnea may be just as effective as in-person care. Patients were highly satisfied with the telemedicine visits, even commenting favorably on the reduced travel burden and increased convenience.
Study participants were randomly assigned to either the telemedicine or standard care approach. For the telemedicine group, initial evaluations were conducted online; the participants visited a local community clinic and used video conferencing to speak with sleep specialists at a distant site. Participants following the standard pathway met face-to-face with a sleep clinician who travelled to the individual’s local community clinic.
Over time, the authors found no significant difference in outcomes, dropout rates, or positive airway pressure (PAP) adherence between the two groups.
This investigation is “the first to compare a novel, telemedicine-based obstructive sleep apnea management pathway with in-person care…Limited access to sleep medicine care is a growing concern within and outside the Veterans Affairs health care system,” says lead researcher Dr. Barry G. Fields, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
Thus far, telemedicine for home health care has often centered around more high-profile chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s reassuring to see empirical support for using telemedicine effectively and efficiently for more common, “everyday” conditions like sleep apnea. This study has opened the door for other home health needs that may yield lower cost savings per patient but equivalent or higher cost savings for an entire population.
Is your organization using telemedicine for home health care? If so, we’d to hear about your experiences below!