After evaluating older glaucoma patients’ perceptions of telemedicine, researchers from the University of Alabama found that knowledge of telemedicine was variable; however, between one-third and one-half of patients had favorable attitudes toward using it for their glaucoma care.

The study enrolled 110 patients at least 60 years of age with a diagnosis of primary open-angle glaucoma, glaucoma suspect or ocular hypertension. Participants were administered a Life Space questionnaire (LSQ) and a Preferences for Telemedicine questionnaire (PTQ). Researchers then analyzed responses by age, race, education, employment status, LSQ score and distance traveled from home to clinic. They also compared PTQ responses by visual field index and visual acuity for the better and worse eyes.

The team found that 71% agreed with or were neutral toward receiving tele-diagnosis, while 74% agreed with or were neutral toward receiving tele-intervention. They note that compared with those over the age of 70, patients between 60 and 69 years old had significantly greater knowledge about types of telemedicine: tele-diagnosis (53% vs. 31%), tele-intervention (49% vs. 24%), tele-triage (80% vs. 47%) and tele-monitoring (55% vs. 27%). 

The researchers noticed that patients of European descent had significantly more knowledge about tele-triage compared with those of non-European descent (72% vs. 53%). They add that patients with more education (beyond high school) compared with those with less education (no more than high school) had more knowledge about telemedicine (39% vs. 16%). 

They also observed that patients with an LSQ score ≥6, meaning they traveled a greater distance from home in the previous three days, displayed significantly more knowledge about tele-diagnosis (49% vs. 25%), tele-intervention (43% vs. 19%) and tele-monitoring (47% vs. 25%) than those with an LSQ score <6.

Rhodes LA, Huisingh CE, McGwin G, et al. Glaucoma patient knowledge, perceptions and predispositions for telemedicine. J Glaucoma. March 13, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].