Telehealth guidelines could improve utilization for allergists

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Allergists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) have voiced support for new guidelines in utilizing telehealth in their practices, according to a position paper published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"Telemedicine services are designed to provide high-quality care, including making every effort to collect accurate and complete clinical information during a visit," said allergist Tania Elliott, MD, lead author of the paper and member of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee. "Having mechanisms to facilitate continuity of care, follow-up care, and care coordination is vital. Allergists need to know the policies, regulations, and clinical guidelines in offering these services to their patients. These are the reasons these guidelines have been developed."

Telehealth care from allergists range reduce costs and allow for quicker, easier care for non-serious conditions. Additionally, rural patients gain access to allergy specialists who were otherwise unavailable at their location.

"In addition to expanding access to care, telemedicine can decrease health care costs," said allergist Jay Portnoy, MD, ACAAI Past President and co-author of the position paper. "A 2014 study found that an estimated 100 million e-visits across the world would result in as much as $5 billion in savings for the health care system. But vital to expanding telemedicine care in the US is a streamlined process for multistate licensure. That would improve access to specialty care while allowing states to retain individual licensing and regulatory authority."

By expanding care and cutting costs for patient and provider, telehealth for allergy care could improve outcomes. The implementation of telehealth guidelines could push both telehealth research and utilization forward in allergy care.

"The ACAAI will monitor this rapidly changing landscape to ensure provision of high-quality care to the patient with allergic and immunologic disorders and consistency of practice in an era of futuristic technologies,” wrote the authors. “Despite the challenges, the current and future benefits of telemedicine are promising and exciting for allergists, patients and healthcare systems."