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Assessment of telemedicine versus in-person care in managing abdominal pain in children during the COVID-19 pandemic

HumanInsight Assessment of telemedicine versus in-person care in managing abdominal pain in children during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Telemed Telecare. 2022 Oct 5:1357633X221125836. doi: 10.1177/1357633X221125836. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in telemedicine care delivery. This raises the question of whether the visit type affects the care provided to patients in the pediatric gastroenterology clinic. The aim of this study is to assess whether diagnostic, treatment, and outcome measures differ between telemedicine and in-person visits in patients seen in pediatric gastroenterology clinics for the chief complaint of abdominal pain.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis of patients aged 0-22 who underwent their initial pediatric gastroenterology clinic visit, for abdominal pain, between March and September 2020 (n = 1769). The patients were divided into two groups: in-person or telemedicine. Clinical outcome measures were compared from the initial gastroenterology visit and followed for a total of 3 months.

RESULTS: There was an increase number of images (M = 0.52 vs. 0.36, p < 0.001), labs (M = 4.87 vs. 4.05; p = 0.001), medications (M = 2.24 vs. 1.67; p < 0.001), and referrals (M = 0.70 vs. 0.54; p < 0.001) performed per visit in the in-person group. Electronic communications (3.97 vs. 5.12 p <0.003) was less frequent after in-person visits. There was no difference in number of procedures (M = 0.128 vs. 0.122, p = 0.718), emergency room visits (M = 0.037 vs. 0.017 p = 0.61), follow-up visits (M = 1.21 vs. 1.21 p = 0.922), or telephone encounters (M = 1.21 vs. 1.12 p = 0.35) between the two groups.

CONCLUSION: Telemedicine utilizes less resources while having comparable outcome measurements in children with a chief complaint of abdominal pain.

PMID:36198032 | DOI:10.1177/1357633X221125836

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