Abstract 221: Environmental Scan of Telemedicine Networks With Services for Hypertension Management, 2016

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Abstract

One of the barriers affecting continuity of hypertension care is access to health care, especially in low-income and rural areas. Telemedicine (TM) provides consultation and specialized treatment remotely, and reduces barriers of access to appropriate, high quality care. Common barriers include limited affordable transportation, job or other time constraints, and geographic isolation. TM use has increased, but there is limited information about the ease of finding TM networks and programs (TMNPs) by the general public. To address this gap, we conducted an environmental scan, during Sept.-Nov. 2016, assessing the ease of identifying existing TMNPs in the United States using simple internet searches (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo). First, we used the American Telemedicine Association’s 2015 Gap Analysis, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) funded programs and 2013 Maryland telemedicine matrix as our template. After identifying the TMNPs, we assessed TM services provided, especially for hypertension (HTN). After compiling a consensus list of TMNPs in the US, we categorized the TMNPs based on their website’s list of services. Of the 50 states and District of Columbia (DC), we found 36 networks and 17 programs. Of these 53 TMNPs, only 1.9% (n=1) indicated that they provide TM services specifically for the management of HTN. However, there were 18 (34.0%) TMNPs that listed cardiology services. The only TMNP specifically focused on hypertension control was in the southeast, an area with a high burden of HTN. This TMNP was called the “Smartphone Medication Adherence Stops Hypertension” (SMASH), and was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The program has reported 95% control among their patient population with HTN in rural areas, including Hispanic and black adults. Other related programs included those focused on heart failure (5.7% (n=3) and diabetes management 9.4% (n=5). This initial environmental scan found most programs presented limited information about their population of interest. For example, 86.7% (n=46) did not provide information about the number of patients, area(s) served and number of partners and providers on their websites. Our results suggest common methods of obtaining information about TMNPs lack important information on TM services for HTN patients, and/or challenges in identifying existing services for patients to access. Using data collected from this environmental scan, our group will develop an exhaustive collection of data on existing TMNPs’ services (including how to participate), working directly with HRSA’s Telemedicine Resource Centers. The information from our environmental scan may produce regional and county-level telemedicine mapping to inform not only patients and their healthcare providers, but also clinicians, researchers, program managers, and decision makers on existing TMNPs that remotely provide effective HTN management.

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