Telehealth could increase access to allergy care

In a position paper presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting, allergists and immunologists presented a case for telemedicine in allergy care. The paper offered recommendations for improving telemedicine access to allergy patients in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Currently, booking an appointment with an allergist for rural or patients without access to a specialist can be difficult. With telehealth, allergists are able to bring the office to the patient by using monitors and cameras to communicate with patients. Facilitators, often times being nurses, are able to take patient measurements and provide allergists with the patient information needed to improve care.

"Technology has been incorporated seamlessly into many of the functions we perform today,” said allergist Tania Elliott, MD, a presenter at the meeting. “From online shopping to online banking to Facetiming with loved ones—technology has made for an improved overall ‘user experience.’ We are looking for ways to leverage technology to improve access to top quality medical care and maximize the patient experience. We want to preserve the doctor patient relationship while translating bedside manner to 'webside manner.'”

Additionally, the report provides recommendations for increased implementation that include: providing a secure telemedicine platform to ensure patient information is private, medical liability coverage should include telemedicine services, and quality assurance measures should be in place for the tracking of patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

“The development of any technology program must focus on the user experience,” said allergist Jay Portnoy, MD, another member of the panel. “The goal is to have an exceptional user experience—a patient’s perceptions and responses that result from the use of a product or service. How that translates to healthcare is that there is a focus on making things easy to use, easy to grasp, easy to understand, and by putting the patient at the center of the experience. The nature of mobile and tech development is bringing the patient back into focus and putting them first again.”