A newly developed video-based app that substitutes for a daily in-person visit by a health care worker required for tuberculosis (TB) treatment may be cheap, effective as well as improve privacy concerns for TB patients, researchers suggest.
The app provides a video on Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) — a control strategy recommended by the World Health Organization for TB patients, to improve adherence by requiring health workers, community volunteers or family members to observe and record patients taking each dose.
It is a low-cost option and also allows patients to record their doses without a health worker present.
The pilot study showed that video DOT could be a promising technology for helping TB programmes around the world manage the disease.
“We believe video DOT offers an alternative that appears to be as effective as an in-person daily visits by health care workers to assure compliance with drug treatment, but also empowers patients to manage their TB without added stress,” said Samuel Holzman, a research student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Tuberculosis is typically treated for six months with a battery of daily antibiotics that include a multidrug combination that can be challenging patients to take.
However, DOT has the potential to be logistically challenging for patients and is viewed by some patients as stigmatising or interfering with their autonomy and privacy.
“In an era when we are focused on patient-centered care, having to meet a health provider every single day is logistically challenging and can be personally invasive,” said Maunank Shah, Associate Professor at the varsity.
The study, published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, conducted on a small number of patients showed that the patient adherence to treatment was approximately the same between the video DOT and in-person DOT, 94 per cent and 98 per cent, respectively.