By Mark Melchionna
The implementation of telehealth had a significant impact on missed follow-up appointments among pediatric patients with tuberculosis infections (TBI), reducing the rate of missed visits by 11.1 percent, a study published in the journal Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease showed.
TB infections occur in about a quarter of people globally. Although the percentage of individuals with TBI who develop an active case of the infection is much lower at 5 to 15 percent, some factors limit treatment, specifically for pediatric patients.
The study subjects received care at the Yale Pediatric Winchester Chest Tuberculosis Clinic and were younger than 18 years. The data collected for the study related to demographics and the number of missed appointments and therapy completions by each patient.
During the study period, the expansion of the clinic and the COVID-19 pandemic led to telehealth implementation for follow-up visits. Researchers evaluated the effect of telehealth on the clinic one year later.
Before implementing telehealth, 16.9 percent of TBI patients missed appointments between 2016 and 2019.
In 2021, after telehealth services were implemented, 54.2 percent of follow-up TBI visits took place virtually. The missed follow-up appointment rate for children with TBI declined from 16.9 percent to 5.8 percent.
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