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Telemedicine diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infection patients is not inferior to face-to-face consultation: a randomized trial

HumanInsight Telemedicine diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infection patients is not inferior to face-to-face consultation: a randomized trial

Einstein (Sao Paulo). 2022 May 27;20:eAO6800. doi: 10.31744/einstein_journal/2022AO6800. eCollection 2022.


OBJECTIVE: To analyze telemedicine diagnostic accuracy in patients with respiratory infections during COVID-19 pandemic compared to face-to-face evaluation in the emergency department.

METHODS: Randomized, unicentric study between September 2020 and November 2020 in patients with any respiratory symptom (exclusion criteria: age >65 years, chronic heart or lung diseases, immunosuppressed). Patients were randomized 1:1 for brief telemedicine followed by face-to-face consultation or direct face-to-face evaluation. The primary endpoint was the International Classification of Diseases code. The secondary analysis comprised length of stay, diagnostic test ordering, medical prescription, and proposed destination.

RESULTS: Ninety-eight patients were enrolled. The mean age was 36.3±9.7 years old, 57.1% were women, and 81.6% had diagnostic test ordered. Mean grouped by International Classification of Diseases code for upper respiratory tract infection, pharyngotonsillitis, and sinusitis showed no difference between study groups or secondary endpoints. The Telemedicine Group was representative of the population usually evaluated in this center. In the Telemedicine Group (n=48), 18.7% patients would be referred for evaluation at the emergency department. The distribution of diagnoses by telemedicine was 67.4% for upper respiratory tract infection, 2.3% for pharyngotonsillitis, and 0% for sinusitis, being statistically similar to the subsequent face-to-face assessment, respectively: 72.1%, 11.6% and 7% (Kappa 0.386 [95%CI: 0.112-0.66]; p=0.536). Telemedicine ordered COVID-19 molecular (RT-PCR) tests in 76.5% versus 79.4% in face-to-face evaluation (Kappa 0.715 [95%CI: 0.413-1]; p>0.999).

CONCLUSION: Diagnostic telemedicine consultation of low-risk patients with acute respiratory symptoms is not inferior to face-to-face evaluation at emergency department. Telemedicine is to be reinforced in the health care system as a strategy for the initial assessment of acute patients. Identifier: NCT04806477.

PMID:35649057 | DOI:10.31744/einstein_journal/2022AO6800

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