Follow-up of Patients with Rheumatic Diseases Treated Through Synchronous Telemedicine

By :
    Estefanía Fajardo
    Periodista científica de Global Rheumatology by PANLAR.

13 August, 2021
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This work, which will be presented at PANLAR 2021, seeks to analyze the usefulness of this method of patient follow-up in the context of the covid-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic.



EF: Hello everyone, welcome to a new Global Rheumatology videoblog where we will be doing a series of interviews of what will be the oral presentations at PANLAR 2021. We are with Dr. Javier Cajas. Doctor, welcome.


LC: Thank you very much, you are very kind.  


EF: Doctor, what will your presentation be about, will it be the research that you are going to show at PANLAR 2021?


LC: Well, this research is the continuation of an observation of a previous cohort of patients that we published in the Colombian Journal of Rheumatology in which we followed for three years a group of patients who are exclusively treated by the synchronous telemedicine method. And the idea of this new research is to see the usefulness of this method of patient follow-up after the advent of the pandemic, the post-pandemic era. 


We know that these tools are important in these times when the arrival of the virus makes attendance at health centers more difficult, when health services are collapsed. So, we wanted to investigate the usefulness of this care strategy in patients, specifically with rheumatoid arthritis. That is kind of the idea, to follow up the patients who came in this cohort during the year after the declaration of the health emergency in Colombia and, in addition, to analyze the patients who entered after that date, because patients continued to enter the telemedicine program we have in Bogotá, and this works in approximately 5 to 6 cities in Colombia.


EF: How many patients was this analysis performed on?


LC: The previous cohort had more or less 2,000 patients, and this new one, which is the analysis we are making of rheumatoid arthritis specifically, is made with 190-195 patients who were already being followed up and a number of approximately 50 patients who are the new control group, i.e., not the control group, the patients who were admitted after the declaration of the health emergency.


EF: And what were the main results, the main findings that you had after this analysis?


LC: Well, the results were similar to what we had found in the three-year follow-up, which is a much longer follow-up that we have done previously, and that is that this method of synchronous telemedicine health care was useful in reducing the outcome which is in rheumatoid arthritis, as we know it, to bring patients into remission or at least to low activity, so we found that in the post-pandemic era, we achieved the same objective, and that is to reduce the number of patients with high activity and moderate activity by increasing the number of patients in remission and low activity significantly, both in patients who were already being managed and in patients who re-entered the program.


EF: Telemedicine is an issue that has been constant during the pandemic, how was this process and what were the main factors to be considered for everything to work correctly?


LC: Perhaps for other medical groups, other institutions, the pandemic was a challenge, for our telemedicine group, perhaps it was not so much a challenge because it was already a very established group, very qualified, then the protocols of how the care was provided by television were already established five or six years ago, so perhaps what there was was more need to increase the number of consultations for access to the service after the pandemic. Of course, it generated difficulties because the displacements anyway made this type of care difficult, remember that synchronous telemedicine requires live care, preferably by videoconference and in this case, which is a fully enabled service, required the presence of a physician at the site of the broadcast where the physical examination is performed.


So, let's say that the challenge was not so great for us. In conclusion, what we saw was an increase in service requirements.


EF: And what is the invitation to those who are currently watching this interview to attend the sessions of these presentations, to get to know these investigations, these analyses, and follow-ups within the framework of PANLAR 2021.


LC: The invitation is for us to see that in our region we are also doing research, that in our region we are also at the forefront using new information and telecommunication technologies as in other regions of the world such as Europe, in the United States, and that we are able to demonstrate that these types of services, even in countries with difficulties such as those in Latin America, are useful and can be a source for the care of our patients, an alternative in times of pandemic or even after this ends. 


EF: Doctor, thank you very much for meeting with us, thank you very much for being part of this coverage of Global Rheumatology.


LC: Thank you very much for the interview and thank you very much to PANLAR for the opportunity.



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