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Children in school-based hearing screening programs who received telehealth-based specialist referrals experienced follow-up care up to 17.6 times faster, compared with children who received standard primary care referrals, according to results from the PCORI-funded Hearing Norton Sound Study. The results appear in the July 2022 edition of Lancet Global Health.
The randomized controlled trial involving about 1,500 children in northwest Alaska was led by Susan D. Emmett, MD, MPH, and Samantha Kleindienst Robler, PhD, AuD, from the Center for Hearing Health Equity at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
The study, which was conducted in 15 rural Alaskan communities between 2017 and 2020, is considered to be the first to demonstrate that telemedicine can reduce a key rural health disparity in access to care.
The researchers also suggest that the benefits of telemedicine could translate to other preventive school-based services to improve specialty health care for children in rural areas.
“This trial has notable broad public health implications,” Emmett told UAMS News, adding, “Importantly, this novel telemedicine model promotes early access to specialists in an effort to decrease health disparities.”
Posted: June 30, 2022
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