PCORI Approves Telemedicine Project

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) www.pcori.org recently approved $20 million for four projects to support patient-centered research projects involving breast screening, cerebral palsy, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and stress management. One research project for $7 million was awarded to the Research Foundation for the State University of New York.

Drug users are most affected by HCV with 30 to 70 percent being chronically infected. However, very few drug users with HCV receive treatment. While HCV treatment of drug users in methadone treatment programs have been shown to be effective, only a small number of programs have the ability to treat HCV onsite.

While current approaches for HCV treatment for people recovering from addiction are highly unsuccessful, new models for HCV are needed in this population.

The study is going to examine the effectiveness of telemedicine provided in methadone clinics versus referral to a liver specialist in treating patients infected with hepatitis C virus who also uses drugs.

The primary aim of the research project over 5 years is to compare HCV treatment using telemedicine in a methadone clinic with the usual standard care by referring the patient to a liver specialist.

The study will begin in 12 methadone clinics as they have provided usual care to patients. At regular intervals, clinics will then switch in a random order to the telemedicine approach.

By using the usual care approach part of the time and treatment via telemedicine other times, the goal is to study the rate of viral eradication 12 weeks after completing HCV treatment.

The researchers are also going to measure patient satisfaction the delivery of HCV care in those patients treated via telemedicine and those treated by a recommended liver specialist.

They are also going to look at the differences in the number starting and completing treatment and how much of the prescribed treatment is actually taken by the patient.

For more details, go to www.pcori.org and click on news.

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