A feasibility study of home telemedicine for patients with cystic fibrosis awaiting transplantation

Olive M Wilkinson, Frances Duncan-Skingle, Jennifer A Pryor and Margaret E Hodson

Sixteen patients with cystic fibrosis were randomized to either telemedicine or standard care alone. All patients were terminally ill. Patients in the telemedicine group had an ISDN line installed in their home and were given a videoconferencing unit connected to their home television set. Eleven subjects completed the baseline assessment and seven patients completed the study (4 on telemedicine and 3 in the control arm). Telemedicine patients had weekly videoconferences from home for a clinical assessment, psychological support and the opportunity for discussion with any member of the multidisciplinary team. A total of 71 home videoconferences were conducted during the study. Anxiety levels were measured before and after the conferences. After six months there were no significant differences in quality of life, anxiety levels, depression levels, admissions to hospital or clinic attendances, general practitioner calls or intravenous antibiotic use between the two groups. However, there was a significant improvement in perception of body image for those in the telemedicine group and the patients liked and valued the service.

The use of telemedicine can enhance the support that a specialist unit can provide for the patient and their family, and may reduce outpatient clinic attendances.

J Telemed Telecare 2008;14:182-185

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