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Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 Dec;106(12):2063-7. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2011.329.

Potential use of telemedicine to provide outpatient care for inflammatory bowel disease.

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Veterans Affairs Palo Alto, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA.



Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often experience barriers to subspecialty access. We applied telemedicine, using a new computerized system called Collaborative Imaging, to resolve these barriers. We studied patients' experience and satisfaction, and clinic throughput.


We performed a prospective randomized controlled pilot study at a Veterans Affairs hospital, assigning patients into two groups: telemedicine encounter, with the IBD specialist remotely located, and standard encounter. We assessed patient experience and measured differences in satisfaction as well as clinic metrics such as appointment duration, wait time, and throughput.


We enrolled 34 patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis who underwent 57 encounters in 9 months. Patients were mostly Caucasian men, with a mean age of 61 years. The two groups similarly rated as excellent their clinic experience and the major clinical satisfaction indices of attention to patient concerns, bedside manner, and perceived skill level of the doctor. The total clinic duration, wait time, and median number of patients per clinic were also similar. The fellow and subspecialist highly rated the technical and informational quality of the telemedicine sessions.


IBD outpatient service may be delivered via a novel telemedicine system. In this pilot study, we observed a high level of patient satisfaction similar to that achieved with a direct clinical encounter.

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