Effectiveness of Telehealth for Clotting Disorders

Online healthcare has come a long way since its early days and is now a complex integrated service used across the globe. Under the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth has grown exponentially and gone from 11% of Americans using it in 2019, to 46% in 2020. But how effective is telehealth for clotting disorders?

Recent developments have thus revealed the ability of telehealth to better manage the health of patients with particular conditions or disorders. One of these new developments is captured in a case study published in the NEJM, which analyzed the employment of telehealth by astronauts. Using telemedicine, doctors onboard the ISS and two radiologists on Earth were able to coordinate an ultrasound to confirm a blood clot on a NASA astronaut.

This allowed the astronaut to receive immediate treatment, request the right medicine, and avoid life-threatening complications. The successful results thus became a key indicator of the limitless potential of telehealth in the healthcare industry — particularly in the field of clotting disorders. Telehealth could be essential in helping patients who live miles away from a doctor’s office, hospital, or treatment center to receive consistent treatment.

In this article, we take a closer look at the integration of telehealth in the care of people with clotting disorders.

Telehealth and its benefits

Telehealth has been developed over decades and is an integral part of the healthcare system today. This includes EHRs and EMRs, clinical documentation, and even e-prescribing. However, telehealth isn’t one-size-fits-all, and a look at telehealth solutions by Wheel highlights the importance of choosing the correct software to provide the most well-rounded care.

When managing clotting disorders, specific telehealth software such as interactive patient care systems (IPC) or patient engagement software allows clinicians the information they need at their fingertips, and patients the power to take a more active role in their own healthcare.

Empowering patients is especially important when dealing with chronic health disorders. A wearable telehealth device developed by the UAB was recently featured due to its ability to track hemodialysis access clotting in real-time. The wearable sensor unit sends data to a microcontroller, and if there is no blood flow, the controller signals an alarm that alerts the need for treatment. This allows patients and their families to manage the disease more independently, using a smartphone or a smart tablet to monitor clotting events and fine the appropriate anti-clotting treatments.

Preventing the development of these clots is crucial when managing blood clot risks, as when left alone clots can have serious health consequences and even be life-threatening. This is where telehealth further comes in. As we’ve previously stressed in Make Prevention A Priority, telehealth’s convenience makes professional monitoring and identifying risk factors more accessible. This allows patients to make lifestyle adjustments and continuously update their treatment plans under the instruction of a medical professional.

Challenges and limitations with telehealth for clotting disorders

Despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits of telehealth’s role in improving the care of clotting disorders, it isn’t without challenges.

Research featured by the ISHBT noted the clear advantage the remote setup brings concerning telehealth for patients who feared contracting Covid-19 during the lockdown. However, they also pointed out challenges in the lack of physical examination, which may affect the accuracy of diagnoses.

Additionally, the concern of drug availability was also indicated to be a significant limitation. Patients who had consulted via telehealth were still unable to procure their needed medication, requiring families to see their providers in person anyway. This was a challenge that the team aboard the ISS faced, as medications were restricted by what was available onboard. Enoxaparin was part of the available medication stock, but they had to wait for a shipment of Apixaban to properly treat the astronaut.

This goes to show that, even with telehealth consultations, patients with severe clotting complications such as pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis will still require constant physical consultations so that complications are managed effectively.

Effective treatment

Ultimately, telehealth has become essential in caring for clotting disorders due to its capacity to make up for the shortcomings associated with physical consultations. Its innate ability to circumvent logistical concerns, and thus, allow for a more comprehensive overview of one’s condition, means it provides much faster treatment and more effective recovery methods for patients.

As it stands, however, telehealth is far from being a standalone treatment method. We should continue to look into the potential of telehealth, and we can certainly expect further breakthroughs in the field that will continue to benefit people from all walks of life.

This post was written by Alexandra Coles.

Reader Writes In: Have you utilized telehealth for your care of blood clots or clotting disorders? Has it been helpful for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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