People with cystic fibrosis (CF) may be able to avoid having to travel to speciality clinics if health professionals can monitor them via phone or video messaging, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in is first Cystic Fibrosis Guideline.
In this new guideline, NICE recognizes that CF patients in the U.K. often have to travel long distances for routine monitoring, negatively impacting their daily schedule and quality of life.
Phone or video monitoring, also known as telemedicine, could be a viable way to get around the issue of traveling long distances, and already is being used by some specialists, the guidance says.
“People with cystic fibrosis have very complex health needs and may have to visit specialist clinics or hospitals on a regular basis. This may involve travelling long distances,” Martin Walshaw, chair of the guideline committee, said in a NICE press release. “If they are stable, the guidance asks specialist teams to consider monitoring suitable individuals over the phone or through video messaging. This means they would not have to spend time travelling to their clinic if they did not need to. This time could be better spent living life the way they want.”
With this approach, patients might need to have testing equipment, such as spirometry, in their homes, which could incur a small cost. But NICE says this would be compensated by the reduced use of National Health Service’s (NHS) clinic space.
Nonetheless, NICE advises caution because telemedicine might not be indicated for some CF patients. Only clinically stable patients should be considered for routine monitoring through this approach.
“Our guideline sets out how to diagnose, treat and support someone with cystic fibrosis so they can live as full a life as possible. Reducing the burden that some patients may experience through regular check-ups that could be done at home could make a positive difference to their lives,” added Mark Baker, director of the center for guidelines at NICE.
Overall, the guideline includes recommendations on diagnosis, service delivery (including how to organize care services and multidisciplinary teams), annual and routine reviews, monitoring, assessment and management of CF (and other related diseases), as well as preventing cross-infection.
The guideline is meant to be read by healthcare professionals, social care practitioners working with people with CF, and patients, families and caretakers.