Evaluation of telehealth support in an integrated respiratory clinic

Lauren Fox, Emily Heiden, Milan A. J. Chauhan, Jayne M. Longstaff, Lara Balls, Ruth De Vos, Daniel M. Neville, Thomas L. Jones, Anthony W. Leung, Lydia Morrison, Hitasha Rupani, Thomas P. Brown, Rebecca Stores, Anoop J. Chauhan

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Supporting self-management is key in improving disease control, with technology increasingly utilised. We hypothesised the addition of telehealth support following assessment in an integrated respiratory clinic could reduce unscheduled healthcare visits in patients with asthma and COPD. Following treatment optimisation, exacerbation-prone participants or those with difficulty in self-management were offered telehealth support. This comprised automated twice-weekly telephone calls, with a specialist nurse triaging alerts. We performed a matched cohort study assessing additional benefits of the telehealth service, matching by: confirmed diagnosis, age, sex, FEV1 percent predicted, smoking status and ≥1 exacerbation in the last year. Thirty-four telehealth participants were matched to twenty-nine control participants. The telehealth cohort generated 165 alerts, with 29 participants raising at least one alert; 88 (53.5%) alerts received a call discussing self-management, of which 35 (21%) received definitive advice that may otherwise have required an unscheduled healthcare visit. There was a greater reduction in median exacerbation rate across both telehealth groups at 6 months post-intervention (1 to 0, p < 0.001) but not in control groups (0.5 to 0.0, p = 0.121). Similarly, there was a significant reduction in unscheduled GP visits across the telehealth groups (1.5 to 0.0, p < 0.001), but not the control groups (0.5 to 0.0, p = 0.115). These reductions led to cost-savings across all groups, but greater in the telehealth cohorts. The addition of telehealth support to exacerbation-prone patients with asthma or COPD, following comprehensive assessment and treatment optimisation, proved beneficial in reducing exacerbation frequency and unscheduled healthcare visits and thus leads to significant cost-savings for the NHS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Number of pages8
Journalnpj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022


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