Acad Pediatr. 2021 Mar 16:S1876-2859(21)00146-7. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.03.008. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Regulatory and payment changes associated with COVID-19 facilitated wide-spread use of telehealth within pediatric primary care starting in March 2020. Given prior quality concerns about antibiotic management for children during telemedicine visits outside of primary care, we sought to examine acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI) visit volume and antibiotic management for children via telemedicine integrated within pediatric primary care.
METHODS: Using electronic health record data from 47 practices within a large pediatric primary care network, we identified visits for ARTI from April-September 2020. For these visits, we categorized antibiotic management consistent with clinical guidelines as guideline concordant. We compared telemedicine and in-person visit guideline-concordant antibiotic management, diagnoses, and antibiotic prescribing using chi-square tests and examined trends over time using descriptive statistics. Antibiotic stewardship during the study period included learning collaborative videoconferences and sharing of clinic and clinician-level metrics through an interactive dashboard.
RESULTS: During the 6-month period, 8,332 ARTI visits were identified, with 3,003 (36%) via telemedicine. Guideline-concordant antibiotic management occurred in 92.5% of telemedicine visits compared to 90.7% of in-person office visits (p=0.004). Telemedicine ARTI visits receiving diagnoses of acute otitis media or streptococcal pharyngitis declined from peak of 52% (May) to 7% (September). Guideline-concordant antibiotic management of sinusitis and viral ARTI during telemedicine visits increased from 88% (April) to 97% (September).
CONCLUSION: With active antibiotic stewardship, pediatricians practicing within certified medical homes consistently delivered highly guideline-concordant care for ARTIs to their patient population via telemedicine integrated into primary care.