The University of California Davis Medical Center (Sacramento, CA) has pioneered the use of telemedicine in its approach to childhood obesity to cover more than 20 rural clinics in California. In our study, we compared the outcomes of the Telemedicine Weight Management Clinic (TM) with those of its face-to-face (FTF) Weight Management Clinic counterpart over the last 5 years, predicting the results to be equivalent or in favor of TM. All children seen in the TM from June 2006 to June 2011 were included (n=121), and encounter notes in medical records were reviewed. For comparison, an equivalent sample of FTF patients was selected from that time frame (n=122). Data that were also abstracted from the medical record included age at first visit, gender, race, referral site, and comorbid diagnoses. Forty-two percent of TM patients compared with 52% of FTF patients received a change in diagnosis. Thirty-nine percent of TM patients received a change in diagnostic evaluation compared with 67% of patients in FTF. When comparing patients who received more than one visit with either form of consultation, the TM group demonstrated substantially more improvement than the FTF group in improving nutrition (88% versus 65%), increasing activity (76% versus 49%), and decreasing screen time (33% versus 8%). Substantially more TM patients were successful with a combined outcome of any one of the weight parameters that included weight loss, weight maintenance, or slowing of weight gain (69% TM versus 44% FTF). Our study suggests that telemedicine can serve as a feasible strategy to increase access to medical care for childhood obesity in rural communities and promote changes in lifestyle with the goal of maintaining a healthy weight.
- medical records
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management