The Endocrine Society Releases New Guidance for Telehealth Use

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The Endocrine Society has released new guidance related to use of telehealth as part of endocrine care.

Announced on October 4, the new policy perspective, which was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, was created as a result of the rapid growth of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and is broken down into 5 specific focus areas to determine appropriateness of telehealth in different settings.

“Clinicians will need to draw upon their own knowledge of each patient and their clinical goals to decide when to incorporate telehealth into their care,” said lead author Varsha G. Vimalananda, MD, MPH, of Veterans Affairs Bedford Healthcare System in Bedford, MA, and Boston University School of Medicine, in a statement from the Endocrine Society. “Telehealth visits can be considered as an option each time we schedule an appointment. Patient preference should be elicited, and decisions guided by weighing the factors we describe in the perspective piece.”

Composed by Vimalananda and a team of 8 colleagues from institutions throughout the US, the 10-page document, which cites 60 references, with the aim of provided a guide for clinicians practicing endocrinology in the use of telehealth for outpatient care. With this in mind, the 9-person panel, which boasts notable experience in multiple aspects of care and telehealth, performed a literature search to identify relevant suites published since 2000 about telehealth in endocrinology.

Based on their review, investigators identified 5 specific domains of telehealth to highlight within their policy perspective. These 5 domains were:

  • Clinical factors, including whether an in-person physical exam or assessment is needed;
  • Patient factors, such as geographic distance to the clinic, access to transportation, work and family obligations, and comfort level with technology
  • The patient-clinician relationship
  • The clinician’s physical surroundings and personal circumstances
  • Availability of infrastructure needed to provide quality telehealth services.

For each of these 5 domains, 2-3 members of the panel leveraged the results of the literature search and their own expert opinions to draft the section examining the effect of the domain’s component factors on the appropriateness of telehealth use within endocrine practice. The writing group noted appropriateness was assessed in the context of the 6 Institute of medicine aims for health quality.

Also included in the document is a figure the authors are hopeful can help guide appropriate use of telehealth visits for endocrine care. Of note, the entire document was reviewed and revised by all members prior to publishing.

This article, "Appropriate Use of Telehealth Visits in Endocrinology: Policy Perspective of the Endocrine Society,” was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.