Hepatitis C outcomes improved via web conferencing for isolated patients

Wednesday, March 14 2012

The Robert Wood Johnson foundation estimated 3.2 million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C, a virus that kills thousands each year. There is an available treatment for the disease that can reverse both the progression of liver damage and fibrosis, but the methods used are intricate and require medical supervision, making it difficult for isolated patients to receive quality care. In order to help those infected in remote locations, scientists studied implementing the use of video conferencing for patient treatment.

The New England Journal of Medicine evaluated a study claiming that primary care clinicians in remote villages and poor urban neighborhoods who were educated to treat patients with hepatitis C via web conferencing, achieved remarkable results nearly identical to specially trained professionals.

These findings were published from an evaluation of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) based out of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque. The study demonstrates that primary care providers anywhere in the world can be trained via video conferencing technology to manage chronic conditions formerly beyond their scope of training and experience, thus expanding their ability to treat very sick patients.