Study finds virtual healthcare tutorial nearly as effective as in-person teaching

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The findings may be a good sign for the future of telehealth services.

A new study shows patients can learn to use an inhaler nearly as easily from a virtual tutorial as from an in-person lesson.

The study, published by JAMA, looked at two groups of adult asthma or COPD patients. One group was taught to better use an inhaler through a virtual teach to goal (TTG) education model and the other group received the TTG education in person. Both groups were able to retain the instruction at a comparable level and that retention dipped over time at the same rate after the patients were released.

The authors wrote that these results can have big implication for increasing patients’ access to high-quality education due to the significantly lower costs and time constraints in the virtual approach as compared to the costs of training and delivering in-person education.

“Innovation appears to be necessary to solve the fundamental problem of how to deliver guideline-recommended care in real-world settings because the practice of relying on health care clinicians has not proved to be effective,” they write in the study.


Virtual education can have the added benefits of allowing patients to repeat the educational sessions at home after release and by helping identify those patients who may need more in-depth, in-person education, which can be less costly than providing it to all inpatients, the study said.

These results can be seen as a good sign for the growing telehealth footprint in healthcare. An April survey performed by the American College of Physicians found that more than half of all internal medicine physicians (and subspecialists) are working in practices that implemented telehealth.

The survey found that 24 percent of practices had adopted remote care management or coaching and 33 percent had implemented e-consults.

Insurers are also increasingly looking to telehealth as a May survey of member of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national trade group of insurers, found that 94 percent of private payer and 92 percent of Medicare Advantage plans offer or are considering offering the services.