Community triage of otology patients using a store-and-forward telemedicine device: A feasibility study | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Community triage of otology patients using a store-and-forward telemedicine device: A feasibility study

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July 18, 2017
by Nishi Gupta, MD; Neeraj Chawla, MD; Digant Gupta, MD, MPH; Nidhi Dhawan, MD; Vidya R. Janaki, MD

Abstract

Chronic otitis media is a major contributor to acquired hearing loss in developing countries. Developing countries such as India, with huge populations and poor health infrastructures, have always felt the shortage of trained specialists who can provide quality care to meet the enormous demand for treatment of this disease. This pilot study assessed the feasibility of empowering trained health workers equipped with ENTraview, a store-and-forward telemedicine device that integrates a camera- enabled smart phone with an otoscope. This device allows the screening of otology patients within the community. Three months of extensive training was provided to five community health workers on primary ear and hearing care, including training on the use of the ENTraview device. Community otology screenings were conducted to triage otology patients and provide them with specialized ENT care at a tertiary hospital. In the initial 6 months of the project, 45 screening camps were organized, which screened 3,000 patients free of cost. Of these 3,000 screened patients, 54% (1,619) were referred for ENT consultation and 215 patients reported. Nearly 50% (103) of the 215 reporting patients required surgical intervention, and 29 patients underwent surgery. Reaching out to the community by remote screening of ear diseases by trained technicians with a telemedicine device seems to be an effective and cost-effective way to triage patients with otologic pathologies.

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