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The use of telemedicine led to an increase in the number of inner-city kids in Los Angeles who kept asthma-related doctor appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, new research shows.
The researchers examined "show rates" -- how often parents kept an appointment for their children instead of not showing up -- over the first four months of the pandemic.
Allergists who run a school-based mobile asthma program in Los Angeles called the LAC+USC Breathmobile have regular patients they work with. When schools closed due to the pandemic, face-to-face appointments were converted to virtual visits.
"Not only did kids show up for appointments, but their show rates were also significantly higher than during the same period in 2019," study author Dr. Kenny Kwong said in an American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) news release.
More than 90% of patients' asthma was well-controlled during the period of telemedicine visits. This rate was comparable to before the pandemic, according to the study authors.
Compared to in-person visits, time spent with each patient rose between 32% and 62% during virtual visits, Kwong and study co-author Dr. Lyne Scott noted.
"Kids with asthma need treatment that is consistent and specialized to their individual needs," Scott said.
"It's reassuring and encouraging that the quality of care young patients, including those in underserved populations, received via virtual access kept their asthma under control," Scott added.
The study shows that quality of care can be maintained when health care providers use new methods of treatment that improve access and convenience for patients, the allergists said.
The findings were scheduled for presentation Friday at the virtual meeting of the ACAAI. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more on telehealth, go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Nov. 13, 2020
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