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Understanding patient experiences and challenges to osteoporosis care delivered virtually by telemedicine: a mixed methods study.

Osteoporos Int. 2019 Nov 23;: Authors: Palcu P, Munce S, Jaglal SB, Allin S, Chishtie JA, Silverstein A, Kim S

INTRODUCTION: There is limited research on the role of telemedicine (TM) in the management of osteoporosis (OP). We previously reported that OP patients assessed by TM had a higher prevalence of fragility fractures, co-morbidities, and need for allied health resources than those serviced by the outpatient clinic. The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences, benefits, and challenges associated with receiving OP care by TM from the patient perspective. METHODS: We adopted a convergent, mixed methods study design whereby both a quantitative component (mailed survey) and qualitative component (30-min telephone interviews) were conducted simultaneously. In addition to reporting survey data, thematic analysis was applied to interview data. RESULTS: Participants were comfortable with virtual technology and perceived that their quality of care by TM was comparable to in-person visits. Expressed benefits included the convenience of timely care close to home, reduced burden of travel and costs, and enhanced sense of confidence with being assessed by an osteoporosis specialist. Perceived barriers included poor follow-up with allied health professionals in the TM program (e.g., physiotherapist) and coordination of tests and investigations. Many participants indicated interest in an OP self-management program, with content focusing on diet and lifestyle factors. CONCLUSION: The TM program bridges the access gap for those living with OP in underserviced and remote areas. However, we identified the need to improve the existing processes to better coordinate access to allied health team members and arrangements for investigations. Participants also expressed interest for a virtual osteoporosis self-management program. PMID: 31760454 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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