Care of inflammatory bowel disease patients during coronavirus disease‐19 pandemic using digital health‐care technology
Background and Aim Although telemedicine is an option for the care of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID)‐19 pandemic, its feasibility and acceptability data are scant. Data on the frequency of COVID‐19 among patients with IBD, quality of life (QOL), access to health care, psychological stress, and anxiety during the COVID‐19 pandemic are scant.
Methods Video/audio consultation for IBD patients was undertaken after a web‐based appointment, and data on acceptability, IBD control, Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), and World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire (WHOQOL‐Bref) were obtained electronically. IBD patients were assessed for COVID‐19 symptoms or contact history and tested using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT‐PCR) on naso‐ oro‐pharyngeal swabs, and data were compared with 16,317 non‐IBD controls.
Results Teleconsultation was feasible and acceptable. IBD patients had COVID‐19 as frequently as non‐IBD controls despite immunosuppressive therapy, possibly due to their awareness and preventive practices. Although the physical, psychological, and social QOL scores during the COVID‐19 pandemic were comparable to the prepandemic period, the environmental scores were worse. Psychological tension and interference with work due to pain were lower during the pandemic, which might be influenced by the control of the disease.
Conclusions Teleconsultation is a feasible and acceptable alternative for IBD patients. They had COVID‐19 as frequently as non‐IBD controls despite a high frequency of immunosuppressive treatment, possibly due to their awareness of the disease and preventive practices. The QOL scores (except the environmental domains) and psychological issues were quite comparable or even better during the COVID‐19 pandemic than earlier.