Is there a role for telemedicine in adult allergy services?

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Krishna, Mamidipudi T. ; Knibb, Rebecca C. ; Huissoon, Aarnoud P. (2016)

Telemedicine refers to the application of telecommunication and information technology (IT) in the delivery of health and clinical care at a distance or remotely and can be broadly considered in two modalities: store-and-forward and real-time interactive services. Preliminary studies have shown promising results in radiology, dermatology, intensive care, diabetes, rheumatology and primary care. However, the evidence is limited and hampered by small sample sizes, paucity of randomised controlled studies and lack of data relating to cost-effectiveness, health related quality of life and patient and clinician satisfaction. This review appraises the evidence from studies that have employed telemedicine tools in other disciplines and makes suggestions for its potential applications in specific clinical scenarios in adult allergy services. Possible examples include: triaging patients to determine the need for allergy tests; pre-assessment for specialised treatments such as allergen immunotherapy; follow up to assess treatment response and side effects; and education in self-management plan including training updates for self-injectable adrenaline and nasal spray use. This approach might improve access for those with limited mobility or living far away from regional centres, as well as bringing convenience and cost savings for the patient and service provider. These potential benefits need to be carefully weighed against evidence of service safety and quality. Keys to success include delineation of appropriate clinical scenarios, patient selection, training, IT support and robust information governance framework. Well-designed prospective studies are needed to evaluate its role. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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