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Endocrine Society Provides Guidance for Appropriate Use of Telehealth

Mark Melchionna

October 07, 2022

The Endocrine Society published a policy perspective covering various factors, such as clinical and patient factors, which could help determine subjective care needs and whether telehealth use is appropriate.

October 07, 2022 - Aiming to enhance personalized care, the Endocrine Society created a policy perspective containing five aspects of care that can help clinicians decide when using telehealth is appropriate.

With 18,000 members spread across 122 countries, the Endocrine Society is focused on promoting efforts to treat all hormone-related conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and hormone-related cancers.

Amid the rapid growth of telehealth that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare stakeholders anticipate that telehealth will continue to pave its way into various aspects of clinical care.

Published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the Endocrine Society policy perspective describes five aspects of care that can assist the process of determining when telehealth is appropriate.

“Clinicians will need to draw upon their own knowledge of each patient and their clinical goals to decide when to incorporate telehealth into their care,” said the policy perspective's first author Varsha G. Vimalananda, MD, a physician-scientist at the VA Bedford Healthcare System and an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, in a press release. “Telehealth visits can be considered as an option each time we schedule an appointment. Patient preference should be elicited, and decisions guided by weighing the factors we describe in the perspective piece.”

The five aspects of care to be considered when deciding whether telehealth is appropriate for a patient are clinical factors including whether an in-person exam is necessary, patient factors such as access to transportation and comfort level with technology, the patient-clinician relationship, the physical surroundings of the clinician, and the availability of infrastructure needed for telehealth visits.

Telehealth is playing an increasingly valuable role in a personalized healthcare, but physicians and patients need to discuss how it fits into the care plan they are deciding on, according to the policy perspective.

"Moving forward, endocrine care is likely to involve a hybrid of in-person and telehealth visits, and thus the decision to use telehealth for any given patient will not be made at a single time point but rather considered in a longitudinal context," the perspective states.

Previous studies have indicated that various benefits that arose from telehealth expansion.

For example, a study published in September found that increased telehealth use during the pandemic led to a drop in opioid overdose risk. Researchers studied data from before and during the pandemic, which indicated that the likelihood of receiving opioid use disorder services and medications was higher in the mid-pandemic patient group that had increased access to telehealth.

Further, telehealth continues to be used widely across the country. Recent data from FAIR Health shows that telehealth use rose 1.9 percent nationally from June to July and that it increased in three of the four US census regions: the Midwest, the South, and the West.

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