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Impact of cystic fibrosis multidisciplinary virtual clinics on patient experience, time commitments and costs.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The experience of outpatient care may differ for select patient groups. This prospective study evaluates the adult patient experience of multidisciplinary outpatient cystic fibrosis (CF) care with videoconferencing through telehealth compared with face-to-face care the year prior.

METHODS: People with CF without a lung transplant were recruited. Patient-reported outcomes were obtained at commencement and 12 months into the study, reflecting both their face-to-face and telehealth through videoconferencing experience, respectively. Three patient cohorts were analysed: (i) participants with a regional residence, (ii) participants with a nonregional including metropolitan residence and (iii) participants with colonised multiresistant microbiota.

RESULTS: Seventy-four patients were enrolled in the study (mean age, 37 ± 11 years; 50% male; mean forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration, 60% [standard deviation, 23]) between February 2020 and May 2021. No differences between models were observed in the participants' rating of the health care team, general and mental health rating, and their confidence in handling treatment plans at home. No between-group differences in the Cystic Fibrosis Questionnaire - Revised (CFQ-R) were observed. Travel duration and the cost of attending a clinic was significantly reduced, particularly for the regional group (4 h, AU$108 per clinic; P < 0.05). A total of 93% respondents preferred to continue with a hybrid approach.

CONCLUSION: In this pilot study, participants' experience of care and quality of life were no different with face-to-face and virtual care between the groups. Time and cost-savings, particularly for patients living in regional areas, were observed. Most participants preferred to continue with a hybrid model for outpatient care.

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