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E-Bulletin No. 7 - August 2022 | Digital Health and COVID-19

Published on: 1 Sep 2022 Viewed: 58

Connected Health (CH) is planning a webinar on "The role of digital health and telemedicine at the time of COVID-19", organized by Prof. Stefano Omboni, the Editor-in-Chief of CH Journal and also the president of Italian Institute of Telemedicine. The webinar includes two sub-topics: The role of digital health and telemedicine at the time of COVID-19---Technical solutions; The role of digital health and telemedicine at the time of COVID-19---Applications for the management of specific diseases or conditions. The webinar will provide a platform for cutting-edge, evidence-based literature and expert-guided practice sharing and communication of scholars dedicated to the development of global digital health applications in diseases. Additionally, according to the literature data, digital health applications during COVID-19 are increasingly prevalent and many experts have published related articles on this topic, so we have highlighted several selected high-quality articles as follows:

Title: Access to telehealth services for colorectal cancer patients in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic
Authors: Victoria A. Marks, Walter R. Hsiang, Waez Umer, Afash Haleem, Dana Kim, John W. Kunstman, Michael S. Leapman, Kevin M. Schuster
Type: Original Article
Abstract:
Background:
The COVID-19 pandemic yielded rapid telehealth deployment to improve healthcare access, including for surgical patients.
Methods:
We conducted a secret shopper study to assess telehealth availability for new patients and follow-up colorectal cancer care visits in a random national sample of Commission on Cancer accredited hospitals and investigated predictive facility-level factors.
Results:
Of 397 hospitals, 302 (76%) offered telehealth for colorectal cancer patients (75% for follow-up, 42% for new patients). For new patients, NCI-designated Cancer Programs offered telehealth more frequently than Integrated Network (OR: 0.20, p = 0.01), Academic Comprehensive (OR: 0.18, p = 0.001), Comprehensive Community (OR: 0.10, p < 0.001), and Community (OR: 0.11, p < 0.001) Cancer Programs. For follow-up, above average timeliness of care hospitals offered telehealth more frequently than average hospitals (OR: 2.87, p = 0.04).
Conclusions:
We identified access disparities and predictive factors for telehealth availability for colorectal cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors should be considered when constructing telehealth policies.
Access to this article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002961022003993


Title: Building on the momentum: Sustaining telehealth beyond COVID-19
Authors: Emma E. Thomas, Helen M. Haydon, Ateev Mehrotra, Liam J. Caffery, Centaine L. Snoswell, Annie Banbury, Anthony C. Smith
Type: Review
Abstract:
The 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has resulted in tremendous growth in telehealth services in Australia and around the world. The rapid uptake of telehealth has mainly been due to necessity–following social distancing requirements and the need to reduce the risk of transmission. Although telehealth has been available for many decades, the COVID-19 experience has resulted in heightened awareness of telehealth amongst health service providers, patients and society overall. With increased telehealth uptake in many jurisdictions during the pandemic, it is timely and important to consider what role telehealth will have post-pandemic. In this article, we highlight five key requirements for the long-term sustainability of telehealth. These include: (a) developing a skilled workforce; (b) empowering consumers; (c) reforming funding; (d) improving the digital ecosystems; and (e) integrating telehealth into routine care.
Access to this article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1357633X20960638


Title: Telehealth Adoption by Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Authors: Jonathan Cantor, Ryan K. McBain, Aaron Kofner, Russell Hanson,   Bradley D. Stein, Hao Yu
Type: Original Article
Abstract:
Objective:
The study examined temporal and geographic trends in telehealth availability at U.S. behavioral health treatment facilities and risk factors for not offering telehealth.
Methods:
Longitudinal data on 15,691 outpatient behavioral health treatment facilities were extracted daily from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator between January 20, 2020, and January 20, 2021. Facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs were excluded. Bivariate analyses were used to assess trends in telehealth availability in 2020 and 2021. Multivariable regression analysis was used to examine facility- and county-level characteristics associated with telehealth availability in 2021.
Results:
Telehealth availability increased by 77% from 2020 to 2021 for mental health treatment facilities and by 143% for substance use disorder treatment facilities. By January 2021, 68% of outpatient mental health facilities and 57% of substance use disorder treatment facilities in the sample were offering telehealth. Mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that did not accept Medicaid as a form of payment were less likely to offer telehealth in 2021, compared with facilities that accepted Medicaid. Mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that accepted private insurance were more likely to offer telehealth in 2021, compared with facilities that did not accept private insurance.
Conclusions:
Although 2020 saw a dramatic increase in telehealth availability at behavioral health treatment facilities, 32% of mental health treatment facilities and 43% of substance use disorder treatment facilities did not offer telehealth in January 2021, nearly 1 year into the pandemic.
Access to this article: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.ps.202100191


Title: Brief Report: Feasibility of Delivering the Secret Agent Society Group Social Skills Program via Telehealth During COVID-19: A Pilot Exploration
Authors: Carmen A. Mootz, Amy Lemelman, Jennifer Giordano, Jamie Winter & Renae Beaumont
Type: Original Article
Abstract:
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, many have worried about the adverse impact on the social functioning of children with autism spectrum disorders. Telehealth delivered group social skills programs offer one way to address this concern. This brief report describes modifications made to the telehealth delivery of the Secret Agent Society group social skills program to five children on the Autism Spectrum aged eight to nine years and their caregivers. It also presents parent-, child- and clinician- feedback on the pros and cons of the telehealth program format, and describes how the intervention helped children to transition to more in-person contact at a time when social distancing restrictions were lifted. Recommendations for telehealth delivery of future social skills group interventions are also discussed.
Access to this article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-022-05591-2


Title: Rapid Rise of Pediatric Telehealth During COVID-19 in a Large Multispecialty Health System
Authors: Flora Howie, Beth L. Kreofsky, Anupama Ravi, Troy Lokken, Mekenzie D. Hoff, Jennifer L. Fang
Type: Review
Abstract:
Background:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine use for outpatient pediatric specialty care was low. Stay-at-home orders (SHO) prompted rapid upscaling of telemedicine capabilities and upskilling of providers. This study compares telemedicine usage before and after the SHO and analyzes how a Children's Center addressed challenges associated with a rapid rise in telemedicine.
Methods:
Data on outpatient visits across 14 specialty divisions were abstracted from the institutional electronic medical record. The 12-week study period (March 9, 2020–May 29, 2020) spanned three epochs: pre-SHO; post-SHO; reopening to in-person visits. Changes in in-person visits, video visits, and completed, cancelled, and no-show appointments were compared between three epochs.
Results:
A total of 4,914 outpatient pediatric specialty visits were completed, including 67% (3,296/4,914) in-person and 33% (1,618/4,914) through video. During the first two epochs encompassing the SHO, video visits increased by 4,750%. During the third epoch when the SHO was lifted, video visits decreased by 66%, with 19.4% of visits conducted through video in week 12. Overall, for outpatient video appointments, 82.8% (1,618/1,954) were completed, 9.1% (178/1,954) were cancelled, and 8.1% (158/1,954) were no-shows. The percentage of completed and no-show appointments did not differ between epochs. However, the cancellation rate decreased significantly from Epochs 1 to 3 (p = 0.008).
Conclusion:
A SHO was associated with a large increase in pediatric specialty video visits. Post-SHO, the percentage of pediatric specialty visits conducted through video decreased but remained higher than before the SHO. Frequent, content-rich communications, self-directed tutorials, and individualized coaching may facilitate successful increases in telemedicine use.
Access to this article: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/tmj.2020.0562


Furthermore, we also list some NEWS about the related topic in the scientific circles:
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM-HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE: How can countries achieve digital maturity in healthcare? The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare; Digital progress varies greatly between countries, even among richer nations; Lower-income countries can leapfrog ageing technologies and implement modern solutions.
(https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/08/countries-achieve-digital-maturity-healthcare/, last access: 30 August, 2022). 

BioSpace: New Opportunities to Fuel the Expansion of Virtual Clinical Trials Market (https://www.biospace.com/article/new-opportunities-to-fuel-the-expansion-of-virtual-clinical-trials-market/, last access: 30 August, 2022).

Healthcare IT News: Why telehealth is more than just a pandemic trend-Patients want convenience, health insights and easy access to quality care–and they want providers to offer safe, innovative digital experiences, one health IT expert contends.
(https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/why-telehealth-more-just-pandemic-trend/, last access: 30 August, 2022)

We hope our sharing will inspire you. Looking forward to meeting you next time in CH Bulletin.


Respectfully submitted by the Editorial Office of Connected Health
Written by Abby Zhang
Assistant Editor of Connected Health

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