A study suggests that telemedicine-based management for obstructive sleep apnea patients is as effective and may be comparable to in-person care.

Results show that there was no significant difference in functional outcome changes, dropout rates, or objectively measured positive airway pressure (PAP) adherence between patients having an in-person physician visit or a clinical video telehealth (CVT) based visit at their initial evaluation. Participants reported high satisfaction with the telemedicine pathway, with all of them agreeing that the quality and content of their telemedicine visits were comparable to in-person visits. The most frequently mentioned advantages of telemedicine were decreased travel burden and greater convenience.

“Our study is the first to compare a novel, telemedicine-based obstructive sleep apnea management pathway with in-person care,” said lead author Dr Barry G. Fields, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center. “Limited access to sleep medicine care is a growing concern within and outside the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. Various telemedicine-based modalities hold promise to help address this need, but technological advancement has outpaced its evidence-based implementation.”

Study results are published in the March 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

“This study emphasizes that the use of telemedicine can be an effective strategy for the evaluation of patients with a suspected sleep disorder,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr Nathaniel Watson, who was not involved in the study. “Telemedicine can dramatically increase patient access to the expertise of board-certified sleep medicine physicians and accredited sleep centers.”

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