Performing Directly Observed Therapy for Tuberculosis Patients with Telehealth

Every year on March 24 we recognize world tuberculosis day.   Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most widespread infectious diseases in the world, infecting an average of 9 million people annually. There have been over 300,000 reported deaths in Canada in 2020 (Statista, 2021).   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of “directly observed therapy” (DOT) as the most effective way of administering medication in treating tuberculosis (CDC, 2012). This form of treatment requires providers to observe patients adhere to the required course of treatment. This process is harshly regulated as any errors in treatment puts patients at risk for accelerated diseases progression and death (Public Health Institute, 2015). The reason why this process is so hard for patients to follow is because there are so many associated factors that interrupt an individual’s daily life. Patients experience substantial travel time, lost earnings, adverse drug reactions, and loss of motivation (Story et al., 2016).   Telehealth has introduced a new form of treatment, Virtually Observed Therapy (VOT), through this treatment providers are able to overcome the harsh logistical and financial challenges of DOT. VOT can be used to facilitate patient and provider interactions without the need to have any in-person consultation through virtual video appointments. In a study of 405 participants there were comparable completion rates (96.1% with VOT vs. 94.6% with DOT) (Guo et al., 2020). Although they were very similar, the study also discovered that it was considerably cheaper to purchase a smartphone for a patient to perform VOT rather than having a one-on-one consultation with a healthcare provider. Telehealth enables tuberculosis patients to save resources, improve patient commitment and allows for patients to spend more time with their families. Furthermore, for providers telehealth reduces travel time, more flexibility in scheduling, safer work environment for employees as they have less exposure to tuberculosis. To learn more about how to implement telehealth properly or how Porton Health’s virtual care system works, contact us to find a solution that solves your needs.   To learn more watch this youtube video from UC San Diego Health:     Statista. (2021, March 12). Number of deaths in Canada 2001–2020.   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). “Module 9: Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment Reading Material,”   Using Telehealth for Directly Observed Therapy in Treating Tuberculosis. (2015, January 1). Public Health Institute.   Story, A., Garfein, R. S., Hayward, A., Rusovich, V., Dadu, A., Soltan, V., Oprunenco, A., Collins, K., Sarin, R., Quraishi, S., Sharma, M., Migliori, G. B., Varadarajan, M., & Falzon, D. (2016). Monitoring Therapy Adherence of Tuberculosis Patients by using Video-Enabled Electronic Devices. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 22(3), 538–540.   Guo, P., Qiao, W., Sun, Y., Liu, F., & Wang, C. (2020). Telemedicine Technologies and Tuberculosis Management: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Telemedicine and E-Health, 26(9), 1150–1156.