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Integration of telehealth services in the healthcare system: with emphasis on the experience of patients living with HIV

Abstract

The US Health Resources and Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Many studies have supported the use of telehealth to increase convenience to patients, improve patient satisfaction, diminish healthcare disparities, and reduce cost that will ultimately lead to improvement in clinical outcomes and quality of care. However, guaranteeing confidentiality, educating patients and providers, and obtaining insurance reimbursement are some of the challenges that face the implementation of telehealth program. The use of telehealth has been investigated in acute infections, such as endocarditis and chronic infections as in hepatitis C, and HIV. The purpose of this review is to focus on the use of telehealth services for people living with HIV (PLWH). For PLWH, telehealth could be particularly useful by connecting specialty providers to an underserved population and addressing many of the factors identified as barriers to HIV care. To date, the literature supports the use of telehealth for the management of chronic diseases including HIV. Most of the studies showed a high acceptability and positive experience with telehealth services among PLWH. However, fewer studies have evaluated telemedicine for chronic direct care of PLWH. Well-designed studies are needed to show that the implementation of telehealth could improve the HIV care continuum. In addition, future research should focus on identifying the group of patients that could benefit the most from such intervention.

  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • HIV
  • retention in care
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