In a new position statement, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advocates for physicians to incorporate meaningful and sustained use of telemedicine in the care of patients with allergies.
“Telemedicine services are designed to provide high-quality care, including making every effort to collect accurate and complete clinical information during a visit,” Tania Elliott, MD, lead author of the paper and member of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee, said in a press release.
“Having mechanisms to facilitate continuity of care, follow-up care, and care coordination is vital. Allergists need to know the policies, regulations, and clinical guidelines in offering these services to their patients. These are the reasons these guidelines have been developed,” she added.
In the paper, ACAAI underscores the benefits of telemedicine in allergy treatment, noting that it improves health outcomes and access to care, increases coverage and may be cost-effective.
A study in 2015 indicated that on average, more than 20% of physician appointments were no-shows and each no-show cost the practice approximately $200, according to ACAAI. ACAAI argued that telemedicine technologies can avoid such no-shows by connecting patients with physicians remotely. Telemedicine allows patients, especially those who are unable or unwilling to travel, to avoid long travel times and related expenses, according to ACAAI.
“In addition to expanding access to care, telemedicine can decrease health care costs,” Jay Portnoy, MD, co-author of the position paper and past president of ACAAI, said in the release. “A 2014 study found that an estimated 100 million e-visits across the world would result in as much as $5 billion in savings for the health care system. But vital to expanding telemedicine care in the U.S. is a streamlined process for multistate licensure. That would improve access to specialty care while allowing states to retain individual licensing and regulatory authority.”
There is evidence that telemedicine enhances overall health outcomes; however, more research is needed, according to ACAAI. One study found that telemedicine is as effective as in-person visits to an allergist for asthma management among children.
According to ACAAI, telemedicine is often used by allergists to conduct a patient’s first visit to determine if in-office testing is needed. Telemedicine can also help save time and money for certain follow-up visits, including a check-up for allergy medications or immunotherapies, according to ACAAI.
Although there are challenges to integrating telemedicine into allergy and immunology practices, its benefits are “promising and exciting” and will continue to evolve, according to ACAAI. – by Alaina Tedesco
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.