Telehealth Reduces Missed Appointments in Pediatric Patients with Tuberculosis Infection

Trop Med Infect Dis. 2022 Feb 14;7(2):26. doi: 10.3390/tropicalmed7020026.


Pediatric patients with untreated tuberculosis infection (TBI), also called latent TBI, are at risk of progression to active TB disease. The primary aim of this study was to identify factors associated with higher rates of missed appointments and failure to complete therapy for pediatric patients with TBI. A secondary aim was to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of telehealth on TBI missed appointment rates. We first performed a retrospective chart review of 129 pediatric patients referred to the free Yale Pediatric Winchester Chest Tuberculosis Clinic from 2016-2019. Associations between demographic/clinical variables and missed appointments/failure to complete therapy were analyzed using univariate and bivariate chi-square tests. Language, lack of primary provider, and distance to clinic were the main contributors to missed appointments and poor treatment adherence. There was an association between the number of missed appointments and failure to complete treatment (p = 0.050). A second cohort of 29 patients was analyzed from January-December 2021 when telehealth was offered for follow-up appointments. Of these follow-up visits, 54% were conducted via telehealth, and the clinic's missed appointment rate dropped significantly from 16.9% to 5.8% during this time frame (p = 0.037). These data demonstrate that telehealth is accepted as an alternative by patients for follow-up TBI visits.

Keywords: COVID-19; missed appointments; telehealth; tuberculosis infection.