Telehealth for Post-Transplant Patients?

For patients who have recently undergone organ transplants, recovery can be a delicate, painstaking process—and regularly taking anti-rejection drugs is critical to it. How can health care providers most effectively ensure that patients are taking these life-or-death medications as directed? As Fierce Healthcare first reported, two pharmacists based at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have successfully integrated telehealth into their work with transplant patients, with a focus on medication adherence. Introducing virtual patient visits, the publication notes, “allows them to maintain continuity of care after discharge from the hospital while expanding the hospital’s service to patients that would otherwise end up in the emergency department.”

The decision to begin virtual visits initially stemmed from a lack of space in the hospital’s clinic for in-person visits. At the same time, post-transplant patients were frequently in need of guidance and support from providers, including regarding medication. So Nicholas Jandovitz, PharmD, and his colleague Demetra Tsapepas, PharmD, took advantage of NewYork-Presbyterian’s existing telehealth infrastructure by offering virtual sessions to patients. The results, the two told Fierce Healthcare, have been positive so far, particularly in that they allow for patient-provider connection in a setting that’s convenient for the patient. “One of the interesting things about transplant patients specifically is they are lifelong patients—they require medication to sustain their health and livelihood,” Tsapepas told the publication. “This ability to have continuous interactions with them outside of the care environment is important.”

Along related lines, we recently highlighted a study that demonstrated the positive impact that mHealth apps can have on medication adherence. Lack of adherence is a costly problem, causing 10 percent of all hospital admissions and approximately 125,000 patient deaths annually; it’s also the reason behind as many as $289 billion in health care costs each year. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, however, found not only that an SMS-based program could help patients stay on track with their medication dosages, but that it also could help researchers understand some of the reasons why people fail to take their medication as directed.

Click here for the article from Fierce Healthcare on the use of telehealth with transplant patients.

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