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Telemedicine as effective as in-person visits for children with asthma

Telemedicine can be a viable alternative to in-person visits for children with asthma, according to a new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The study found that telemedicine visits were “noninferior” to in-person visits and children who chose a telemedicine session achieved comparable degrees of asthma control as those who were seen in person.

Children with asthma who resided in two remote locations were offered the choice of keeping an in-person appointment at the allergy clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH) in Kansas City, Mo., or changing it to a telemedicine visit. The telemedicine option included a visit to a local clinic where a registered nurse or respiratory therapist operated the telemedicine equipment.

Of 169 children, 100 were seen in-person and 69 were seen via telemedicine. The children in both groups were assessed initially, after 30 days and at six months. Both groups showed an improvement in asthma control over six months, said study author Dr. Chitra Dinakar, an allergist at CMH.

“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,” Dinakar was quoted as saying in a report accompanying the study. “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.”

Most of the patients who were seen via telemedicine were satisfied with the experience.

Telemedicine allows young patients to receive care when and where they need it. Telemedicine can provide effective and cost-efficient care for children with asthma who live in rural areas or far away from an allergy clinic, the study concluded.

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