Infectious Disease

Study finds many patients living with HIV prefer in-person visits to telehealth

November 10, 2022

1 min read

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Disclosures:
Gudipati reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Patients living with HIV prefer in-person visits with physicians to telehealth visits, according to research presented at ID Week.

“Telehealth programs can help overcome barriers to HIV care and maintain patient engagement when crisis interrupts traditional care models,” Smitha Gudipati, MD, an infectious disease faculty member in the Henry Ford Health System, said during the presentation. “Although [it had] small numbers, our study suggests that our patients living with HIV preferred and felt safe engaging with in-person visits, despite telehealth education and smartphone supplementation, even in a pandemic.”

Telehealth

Gudipati and colleagues at their HIV clinic “aggressively” promoted their telehealth system, MyChart. They then surveyed Ryan White patients living with HIV who initiated the telehealth program.

They determined patient use of the program by whether patients responded to send a notification using the MyChart telehealth navigator.

A total of 206 patients living with HIV were enrolled in the pilot program from October 2020 through January 2022. Of these, 27 patients received preloaded smartphones.

Among patients enrolled, 83.7% were Black, 73% were male, 57% were aged older than 45 years and 88% lived in Wayne County, Michigan.

Gudipati and colleagues found that among participants, 44% interacted with the MyChart program, 29% were unable to be reached, and 27% completed the survey.

The researchers found that, among participants who completed the survey, 49% indicated that their reason for not utilizing telehealth was that they preferred an in-person visit.

“We think that our patients preferred in-person [meetings] due to easier communication with staff, and access to labs, medications and vaccinations,” she said. “As the future of medicine moves toward telehealth management, we must not forget our vulnerable populations and find opportunities to safely engage with in-person visits.”

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