News Feature | October 7, 2013

Telemedicine As Effective As Office Consultation

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HTO Telehealth

Study shows office consultations and remote physicians are in agreement 90 percent of the time in follow-up evaluations of patients with age-related macular degeneration

A German study has determined that telemedicine is just as effective as office visits for patients with age-related macular degeneration. According to Medscape Medical News, “Retreatment decisions made during office consultations and those made by a remote ophthalmologist were in agreement 90% of the time.”

Medscape Medical News adds, “A benefit of telemedicine is that patients can be assessed faster, which ‘should allow ophthalmologists to evaluate a greater number of cases and therefore improve the follow-up of patients with wet macular degeneration,’ said José Andonegui Navarro, MD, from the ophthalmology service at Hospital de Navarra, in Pamplona, Spain.

"’The most surprising result has been the mean time spent in the remote assessment of the patients.’ The mean of 1 minute and 21 seconds ‘compares favorably with the 10 minutes assigned for office evaluation of these patients.’”

Andonegui Navarro continued, "We can evaluate images at full screen, can travel through different sections of the tomography images, and can use magnification to further explore areas of the retina we are interested in."

"’This is a good study that can help with the follow-up of patients. It is good for patients and doctors and an example of how we can save time,’ said Marcio Nehemy, MD, from the Department of Ophthalmology at Federal University of Minas Gerais School of Medicine Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Although the telemedicine strategy has potential, ‘it will be necessary to check how it works in the real world,’ he told by Medscape Medical News.”

A second study is scheduled to begin in November, according to Clinical Trials. The stated hypothesis is: “The use of teleophthalmology for patient screening will result in more rapid patient access for treatment. The use of teleophthalmology to monitor patients with wet AMD post-treatment will result in maintenance of good visual outcomes combined with a reduction in patient travel and improved patients satisfaction in a cost effective manner.”

Among the objectives of this study are:

  • “To compare the "time to treatment/retreatment" with this program with that of patient's entering the system and being followed conventionally to determine the efficacy of teleophthalmology to provide rapid entry/re-entry into treatment programs.
  • To determine the compliance rate for monitoring wet AMD during follow-up utilizing teleophthalmology.
  • To evaluate the cost effectiveness of teleophthalmology in screening/monitoring wet AMD patients including direct costs to the OHIP system and indirect costs to the patient/caregiver.
  • To assess patient satisfaction with teleophthalmology versus standard clinical care in the monitoring of post-treatment wet AMD.
  • To evaluate teleophthalmology as a tool for communication between community based Optometrists /Ophthalmologists and Retina Specialists.”