Factors Associated With Use of Telemedicine for Follow-up of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2020 Oct;72(10):1404-1409. doi: 10.1002/acr.24049.


Objective: Telemedicine is increasingly being offered to patients for rheumatology care, but few studies have examined factors associated with telemedicine use or outcomes of telemedicine in rheumatology. The objective of this analysis was to determine factors associated with the use of video telemedicine when offered as part of usual care for follow-up of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Individuals in the Alaska Tribal Health System with a diagnosis of RA were recruited when seeing a rheumatologist either in-person or by video telemedicine, both of which were offered as part of usual care. At the study visit, participants completed the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3) and a telemedicine perception survey and agreed to a medical record review for demographics and disease characteristics. Data from this visit were analyzed to determine factors associated with using telemedicine for RA, compared to being seen in-person only.

Results: Of 122 participants enrolled in the study, 56 (46%) had been seen by telemedicine at least once. Factors associated with telemedicine use in univariate analysis included a higher RAPID3 score, a higher number of rheumatologist visits in the preceding year, more positive perceptions of telemedicine, and seeing a physician who used telemedicine more often. On multivariate analysis, these 4 factors all remained significant. Demographic and other disease-related factors or comorbidities were not associated with telemedicine use.

Conclusion: When offered as an option for rheumatology care, video telemedicine was more likely to be used by RA patients with higher disease activity and more positive perceptions of telemedicine, and by patients whose physicians used telemedicine more often.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rheumatology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*