Telehealth program helps cut hospitals' antibiotic use by nearly 25%

A telehealth-based antimicrobial stewardship program helped reduce broad-spectrum antibiotic use by nearly 25 percent at two community hospitals, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers examined the effects of a telehealth-based antimicrobial stewardship program at two community hospitals in Pennsylvania, one with 285 beds and the other with 176 beds. For six months, infectious disease physicians remotely reviewed patients being given broad-spectrum antibiotics with local pharmacists, as well as those admitted with lower respiratory tract infections and skin and soft tissue infections. The infectious disease physicians made recommendations for antimicrobial stewardship interventions to primary care teams that were tracked by local pharmacists.

During six-month intervention, infectious disease physicians made 1,419 antimicrobial stewardship recommendations, of which 1,262 were accepted.

Broad-spectrum antibiotic use decreased by 24.4 percent during the intervention, compared to to the one-year baseline period. Consultations with infectious disease physicians increased by 40.2 percent.

Researchers estimated that annualized savings on antibiotic expenditure was $142,629 during the intervention period.

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