For children, having asthma generally means working with an allergist for treatment. However, many children in underserved regions, such as inner-city or rural areas, are unable to visit an allergist’s office due to obstacles such as distance or cost. As a result, these patients often do not receive the best, most cost-effective care available. There is hope, though: A new study shows that using telemedicine for asthma treatment can be as effective as an in-person visit. This discovery could bring the allergist virtually to the local health clinics, removing some of these barriers to care.
In the study, published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the researchers began by identifying patients who lived far away from the hospital. These patients’ families were offered a choice between returning to the hospital for the next appointment or changing the appointment to a telemedicine visit at a local clinic. Over a period of six months, the research team found that all of the patients demonstrated better asthma control regardless of whether they opted for an in-person visit or a telemedicine session. In addition, the children and their parents expressed high levels of satisfaction with their telemedicine experience.
As explained by one of the study’s authors, allergist Chitra Dinakar, MD, ACAAI Fellow, the researchers felt “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.
The telemedicine visits were facilitated by a respiratory therapist or registered nurse at the local clinic. The allergist saw and heard the patient in real-time, even panning and zooming a camera as needed. A digital stethoscope allowed the physician to listen to the lungs and heart, and a digital otoscope was used to examine the ears and nose.
Among the components of a telemedicine visit, a flexible software platform is just as important as the digital hardware, especially in rural communities that may not have reliable Internet access. This is where swyMed comes in; with its low bandwidth requirement, healthcare providers can rely on swyMed to send and receive video, audio, and data streams in places where other platforms falter. This makes swyMed a solid choice for implementing telemedicine in areas with spotty Internet access.
To learn more about the swyMed live video medicine platform, visit our website at swyMed.com.