Web-based consultation between general practitioners and nephrologists: a cluster randomized controlled trial
until further notice
SourceFamily Practice, 34, 4, (2017), pp. 430-436
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
SubjectRadboudumc 11: Renal disorders RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 16: Vascular damage RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Background: Consultation of a nephrologist is important in aligning care for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) at the primary-secondary care interface. However, current consultation methods come with practical difficulties that can lead to postponed consultation or patient referral instead. Objective: This study aimed to investigate whether a web-based consultation platform, telenephrology, led to a lower referral rate of indicated patients. Furthermore, we assessed consultation rate, quality of care, costs and general practitioner (GPs') experiences with telenephrology. Methods: Cluster randomized controlled trial with 47 general practices in the Netherlands was randomized to access to telenephrology or to enhanced usual care. A total of 3004 CKD patients aged 18 years or older who were under primary care were included (intervention group n = 1277, control group n = 1727) and 2693 completed the trial. All practices participated in a CKD management course and were given an overview of their CKD patients. Results: The referral rates amounted to 2.3% (n = 29) in the intervention group and 3.0% (n = 52) in the control group, which was a non-significant difference, OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.31 to 1.23. The intervention group's consultation rate was 6.3% (n = 81) against 5.0% (n = 87) (OR 2.00; 95% CI 0.75-5.33). We found no difference in quality of care or costs. The majority of GPs had a positive opinion about telenephrology. Conclusion: The data in our study do not allow for conclusions on the effect of telenephrology on the rate of patient referrals and provider-to-provider consultations, compared to conventional methods. It was positively evaluated by GPs and was non-inferior in terms of quality of care and costs.
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