Current Landscape of Telemedicine Practice in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Patil SA1, Cross RK1. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Apr 28. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy113. [Epub ahead of print]

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1 University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Baltimore, MD.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), comprised of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affects 1.6 million people in the United States. Although effective medical treatments exist to treat the disease, outcomes are still suboptimal. The reasons for poor outcomes vary but include nonadherence to therapy, inadequate monitoring of patients, limited access to IBD specialty care, concurrent psychiatric disease, limited patient knowledge of the disease and treatments, and patient provider discordance. Telemedicine is a candidate intervention that can be used to improve patient outcomes through more frequent monitoring, patient self-management, delivery of education (patient and provider), and to increase access to multidisciplinary IBD care. Telemedicine includes remote monitoring, telehealth, teleconsultation, and teleconferencing.Telemedicine systems have been used in patients with IBD with widespread patient acceptance of the technology. However, early clinical trials demonstrated high attrition rates among intervention patients. In general, use of telemedicine systems have been associated with improved quality of life, improved patient knowledge, and decreased utilization of health care resources. Early studies evaluating telehealth visits report high patient satisfaction, decreased indirect costs to patients, and no decrease in quality of care delivered.Due to widespread access to computers and smart phones among patients, telemedicine will continue to expand in the care of patients with IBD. To optimize use and effectiveness of telemedicine, barriers for use including concerns over increased liability, need for informed consent, licensure restrictions to providing interstate telehealth visits, and cybersecurity need to be addressed.

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