A hospital-based asynchronous ENT telehealth service for children with otitis media: Cost-minimisation and improved access

Ali A.H. Altamimi, Christopher G. Brennan-Jones, Monique Robinson, Jafri Kuthubutheen, Hayley Herbert, Tu Trang Tran, Tamara Veselinović, Melinda Edmunds, Babatunde Oremulé, Eman M.A. Alenezi, Peter C. Richmond, Robyn S.M. Choi, Ian Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of a hospital-based asynchronous ear, nose, and throat (ENT) telehealth service (the Ear Portal) in reducing cost and improving access for children with otitis media. Methods: Participants were recruited to the Ear Portal from a tertiary hospital ENT waiting list. Ear and hearing assessments were conducted during appointments by the Ear Portal research assistant, and data was stored for an asynchronous review by the Ear Portal multidisciplinary team. A cost-minimisation analysis was conducted for the Ear Portal and the standard care pathways. Waiting times to provide care for both pathways were calculated for children with semi-urgent (i.e. Category 2) and non-urgent (i.e. Category 3) referrals. Results: The running cost for the Ear Portal was $67.70 for initial appointments and $37.34 for follow-up appointments. Conversely, the running cost for the standard care pathway was $154.65 for initial appointments and $86.10 for follow-up appointments. A total of 223 appointments were required to offset the initial Ear Portal investment of $19,384.00. The median waiting time for the Ear Portal from initial contact to care plan delivery was <30 days, whereas the median waiting times for children in the standard care pathway were 291 days (interquartile range (IQR) = 117) for Category 2 and 371 days (IQR = 311) for Category 3 referrals. Conclusion: Under the current circumstances, the Ear Portal service can reduce costs for the health care system by reducing marginal costs per patient in addition to providing ENT specialist care within the clinically recommended timeframes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2024

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