Is telemedicine the new normal in allergy services?
Published online: October 19, 2020
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated a sudden change in the model of care across the allergy services. The majority of the face-to-face visits were replaced by telephone or video consultations. Changes that would typically require years of forward planning occurred in no time, and the allergy community was introduced to the transformational potential of telemedicine.
In an original article recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Thomas and colleagues reported on the outcomes of all the non-face-to-face clinic appointments (n=637) in a tertiary adult allergy center during the second month of the pandemic in the United Kingdom.
Thomas and colleagues found that more than 42% of the new patients referred for non-drug-related reactions, and 29% of the patients referred for suspected drug allergy, were discharged from the allergy service after a single telephone consultation, without requiring an in-person visit or allergy testing. Also, only 9% of the follow-up patients required a face-to-face visit for additional testing. The non-face-to-face consultations were well received by the patients.
The authors suggested that telemedicine is an innovative tool that can transform the current models of allergy care. They recommended allergy specific screening criteria for selecting suitable patients for remote consultation. Moreover, they proposed a new telemedicine-based drug allergy service model which can result in time and cost savings, while improving patient access to specialist care.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.