The following is a summary of “Impact of Telemedicine on Delivery of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Care,” published in the October 2023 issue of Pediatrics by Michel, et al.
For a study, researchers sought to examine the impact of the transition from in-person office visits (OVs) to integrated telemedicine on the delivery of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) care during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Electronic medical records from a single center were analyzed for pediatric IBD patients from April 2019 to December 2020. Visit volume, duration, test ordering, and sociodemographic factors influencing telemedicine adoption were compared between 2019 and 2020 and between OV and telemedicine.
Visit volume remained consistent between 2019 and 2020. Telemedicine appointments were shorter than OV [46 minutes (IQR 35–72) vs 62 minutes (IQR 51–80), P < 0.001], with no significant difference in provider interaction time [28 minutes (IQR 21–41) vs OV 30 minutes (IQR 24–39), P = 0.08]. Considering drive time, telemedicine visits were 2.6 times shorter than office visits in 2020 (P < 0.001). In univariate analysis, telemedicine utilization showed no race or gender differences. Factors associated with telemedicine included older age, English as a primary language, non-Hispanic ethnicity, commercial insurance, residence in a high-opportunity area, and longer drive time (P < 0.05 for all). Multivariate analysis revealed a higher likelihood of telemedicine visits for patients with commercial insurance (P = 0.02). Among telemedicine visits, multiracial patients were more likely to have video visits (vs audio-only; P = 0.02), while public insurance, no or missing insurance, and Arabic as the primary language were associated with lower chances of video visits (P < 0.05 for all).
Integrated telemedicine ensured continued pediatric IBD care and significantly reduced appointment times. Although telemedicine may enhance access for those distant from the office, concerns persist regarding potential disparities.