Is Electronic Follow-Up Feasible for Monthly Acne Evaluations?
Patients that might benefit from the use of isotretinoin may avoid the medication due to the monthly office visits that are required. Isotretinoin, sold in the U.S. as Accutane, is known for its serious side effects, including bowel problems, mental health issues and an increased likelihood of severe birth defects. The FDA requires doctors, pharmacists and patients involved with the medication to register on a website for the iPLEDGE Program and limits prescriptions to one month at a time.
A recent study hypothesized that the prescribing rules may lead to time and financial burdens on patients and caregivers, such as missed work and school, and sought to determine whether e-visits might be a viable alternative to the monthly visit. Researchers surveyed patients and caregivers to quantify the perceived burden of follow-up visits, as well as interest in, perceived safety of, and willingness to pay for e-visits. Participants estimated that e-visits would save about two hours of missed work and three hours of missed school each month. Most patients and said they weren’t concerned by the safety of e-visits, but about 21% of caregivers were unsure. Participants were willing to pay an average of $25 out of pocket for such visits. The e-visit alternative might not be financially feasible for doctors because the average price for e-visits for other dermatologic conditions is $49-$59. However, the authors suggest that the price point suggested by their study may not be fully reflective of the willingness of respondents to pay for e-visits.
The authors conclude that as part of the evolution of the iPLEDGE program, it is important to quantify the burden it places on patients and caregivers. E-visits may be a feasible way to reduce the burden created by the iPLEDGE program for many patients taking isotretinoin.
Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C
Adapted from the original article.
[image by Amancay Maahs]