Sleep apnea patients highly satisfied with telemedicine treatment

Telemedicine treatment of obstructive sleep apnea leads to functional care and high levels of patient satisfaction, according to a new pilot study published in Sleep.

The study involved 60 veterans at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and two affiliated outpatient clinics. Study outcomes were quantified by a functional sleep questionnaire, dropout rates, positive airway pressure adherence rates and patient satisfaction ratings. Verbal feedback from patients was also taken into account.

After three months of treatment, telemedicine patients showed higher improvement in mental health than their standard-care counterparts. There was no significant difference between standard-care patients and telemedicine patients in the other metrics examined. The telemedicine group reported high satisfaction and agreed that the quality of their telemedicine interactions were comparable to face-to-face physician visits.

"Our study is the first to compare a novel, telemedicine-based obstructive sleep apnea management pathway with in-person care," lead author Barry G. Fields, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center, said in Sleep Review. "Limited access to sleep medicine care is a growing concern within and outside the Veterans Affairs health care system. Various telemedicine-based modalities hold promise to help address this need, but technological advancement has outpaced its evidence-based implementation."

The authors suggest future studies should be conducted with larger populations to compound their findings while examining cost effectiveness of the telemedicine treatment.

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