A feasibility study of telemedicine for paediatric sickle cell patients living in a rural medically underserved area

Seethal A. Jacob, Aaron E. Carroll, William E. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common inherited haematological disease, with potentially devastating complications. Improvements in therapies have increased the life span of patients with SCD, but this is contingent on receiving timely evidence-based medical care, including regular evaluations with haematologists, disease-specific education and psychosocial care. Our objective was to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing telemedicine for the provision of subspecialty paediatric SCD care in a rural medically underserved area. Methods: This was a cross-sectional, observational, feasibility study. All patients 0–21 years old with SCD seen at Riley Hospital for Children Comprehensive Pediatric Sickle Cell Clinic who lived within 30 miles of the spoke telemedicine facility were eligible for recruitment. The Telehealth Satisfaction Scale (TeSS) was adapted for the SCD population and administered at each visit. Results: Ten SCD patients, ranging in age from 10 months to 18 years old, initiated telemedicine visits during this timeframe. Some 60% were lost to follow-up or did not attend >50% of scheduled visits prior to beginning telemedicine visits. Following initiation of telemedicine, all Hb SS patients were started and/or maintained on hydroxyurea. Nine out of 10 patients who participated during this timeframe had a 100% follow-up rate. All who participated rated the comfort and ease of using the telehealth system as good or excellent and would do a telemedicine visit again. Discussion: This study provides critical information to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a telemedicine intervention to aid in SCD care. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effectiveness of telemedicine to deliver comprehensive paediatric SCD care. Future research with a larger sample size is needed to confirm findings of our study, including expansion of telemedicine sites to include more urban areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • medically underserved
  • paediatric
  • sickle cell disease
  • telehealth
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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