Asynchronous tele-expertise (ASTE) for prenatal diagnosis is feasible and cost saving: Results of a French case study

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 1;17(8):e0269477. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269477. eCollection 2022.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the potential of the use of asynchronous tele-expertise (ASTE) to provide prenatal diagnosis from a medical and economic point of view.

Population: Patients screened by a midwife at a primary center.

Methods: A technical and clinical evaluation was conducted retrospectively, and a cost minimization study compared asynchronous tele-expertise to face-to-face consultations that would have been performed without ASTE.

Main outcome measures: In our study we assessed the feasibility of ASTE, what were the origins of the requests for expertise, whether patients need to be moved and the reasons for doing so, and the costs of tele-expertise and conventional consultation.

Results: In this retrospective analysis 322 advices from 260 patients were interpreted remotely via a platform. The results revealed a 90.68% feasibility of transmitting in a satisfactory and interpretable way ultrasound images and videos via the tele-expertise platform (292/322 files). In our series, asynchronous analysis allowed the required physician to make an accurate diagnosis and identify 74 (28.5%, 95% CI [23% -33.9%]) pregnancies associated with malformations and rule out abnormalities in 186 (71.5%, 95% CI [66.1% -77%]) of the cases. The ASTE was not associated with face-to-face consultations for 72.7% (189/260) of the patients, who without moving, were able to have access to a precise diagnosis by ruling out the presence of anomalies in 163/189 of these patients and confirming them in 26/189 patients. The practice of ASTE would result from a societal point of view, an average saving of 61.8% (€ 120.57) per patient compared to a face-to-face consultation.

Conclusion: The use of asynchronous tele-expertise (ASTE) using fetal ultrasound, is feasible and may contribute to increased diagnostic accuracy while generating a significant reduction in costs for society.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • Ultrasonography

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.