ASYNCHRONOUS TELECONSULTATION BY WHATSAPP CHATBOT IN CONTROLLED AXIAL SPONDYLOARTRHITIS PATIENTS UNDER BIOLOGICAL THERAPY AS A MORE SUSTAINABLE MODEL THAN FACE-TO-FACE CLASSICAL CONSULTATION
Authors: Natalia Rivera et al.
This Spanish prospective study assessed the outcome of telehealth follow up in patients with axSpA under biologics therapy. 60 patients with stable disease were included. 2 teleconsultations every 4 months with a WhatsApp chatbot were offered and a final visit in presence at 1 year. The chatbot collected patient reported outcomes (BASDAI, patient global VAS, ASDAS) and sent a feedback. In case of deviations of PROMs or if requested by the patient, contact with a doctor or nurse was provided. 93.3.% of the patients were in remission/low disease activity at inclusion. Evaluation at 1 year showed no worsening of PROMs during follow up. 3 patients with reduced dose of a biologic drug had to increase to standard dose, there were no other changes to the therapy. In the study population 62% of visits in presence could be spared. The time needed for the WhatsApp consultation was only 1/3 of a visit in presence. The telehealth consultation was rated high by the patients (VAS 9.4) and 83% of the patients preferred telehealth follow up.
The study shows that virtual follow up visits using a chatbot did not lead to a worse outcome and were well accepted by the patients. Importantly, the number of visits in presence were markedly reduced. In times of shortage of health care workers telemedicine may help to maintain quality of care with less resource use.