Impact of telemedicine on visit attendance for paediatric patients receiving endocrinology specialty care

J Telemed Telecare. 2020 Nov 23:1357633X20972911. doi: 10.1177/1357633X20972911. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Children in rural communities often lack access to subspecialty medical care. Telemedicine has the potential to improve access to these services but its effectiveness has not been rigorously evaluated for paediatric patients with endocrine conditions besides diabetes.

INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to assess the association between telemedicine and visit attendance among patients who received care from paediatric endocrinologists at an academic medical centre in northern California between 2009-2017.

METHODS: We abstracted demographic data, encounter information and medical diagnoses from the electronic health record for patients ≤18 years of age who attended at least one in-person or telemedicine encounter with a paediatric endocrinologist during the study period. We used a mixed effects logistic regression model – adjusted for age, diagnosis and distance from subspecialty care – to explore the association between telemedicine and visit attendance.

RESULTS: A total of 40,941 encounters from 5083 unique patients were included in the analysis. Patients who scheduled telemedicine visits were predominantly publicly insured (97%) and lived a mean distance of 161 miles from the children’s hospital. Telemedicine was associated with a significantly higher odds of visit attendance (odds ratio 2.55, 95% confidence interval 2.15-3.02, p < 0.001) compared to in-person care.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that telemedicine is associated with higher odds of visit attendance for paediatric endocrinology patients and supports the conclusion that use of telemedicine may improve access to subspecialty care for rural and publicly insured paediatric populations.

PMID:33226895 | DOI:10.1177/1357633X20972911