Building on preliminary findings that hepatitis C patients respond positively to treatment services for the virus that are delivered through telemedicine, a group of researchers will use a five-year, $7 million grant to test the approach in a dozen New York methadone clinics.
The University at Buffalo research project, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, will seek to counteract numerous barriers to treatment for hepatitis C patients, including the presence of other co-occurring medical conditions, a lack of social support, and a mistrust of medical professionals. This can be the case even for hep C patients with opioid use disorders who regularly visit methadone clinics, according to the researchers.
The research, which will take place at both urban and rural methadone clinics, will compare viral eradication, treatment adherence and patient satisfaction outcomes for individuals receiving telemedicine services and those receiving usual care (most commonly a referral to another location for hepatitis C treatment). Preliminary results with 18 patients in New York City, who received biweekly telemedicine conferences with University at Buffalo professor of medicine Andrew H. Talal, were promising.
“Not only did the patients grow increasingly comfortable with the telemedicine sessions, but they reported that they preferred these sessions over going to another site for treatment,” Talal said in a news release.