A nurse-led, telehealth-driven hepatitis C management initiative in regional Victoria: Cascade of care from referral to cure

J Telemed Telecare. 2021 Jun 18:1357633X211024108. doi: 10.1177/1357633X211024108. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Elimination of hepatitis C virus stands as an unresolved World Health Organization target, and is associated with complications including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis C virus management has been revolutionised following the widespread availability of direct-acting antiviral agents in Australia since 2016; however, large proportions of the population remain untreated. Telehealth-based service delivery is an accessible and effective alternative, and we aimed to assess qualitative and clinical outcomes in a clinical nurse consultant-led regional telehealth model.

METHODS: A prospective cohort analysis of all patients referred to a Victorian regional hospital’s hepatitis C virus telehealth clinic between 1 April 2017 and 10 June 2020 was conducted. Data were collated from outpatient and electronic medical records.

RESULTS: Fifty-five out of 71 referred patients were booked, with 44 patients (80%) attending at least one appointment. A history of alcohol use disorder and psychiatric comorbidity was seen in 25 (54%) and 24 (52%) patients, respectively. Twenty-one out of 24 (88%) eligible patients had direct-acting antiviral agent treatment and 14 out of 21 (67%) successfully completed the treatment. An average of 46.5 km, 54.6 min and $AUD30.70 was saved per patient for each visit. Observed benefits included: increased medical engagement, adherence to and completion of HCV treatment and cirrhosis monitoring. Telehealth-driven hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance was successful in the cirrhotic subgroup.

CONCLUSION: Clinical nurse consultant-led hepatitis C virus management via telehealth allows access to marginalised regional populations. Clinical outcomes were comparable to other cohorts with additional cost-benefit, efficiency gains and carbon footprint reduction amongst a previously unreported regional Victorian hepatitis C virus population.

PMID:34142898 | DOI:10.1177/1357633X211024108