Curtis L. Cooper, Holly Hatashita, Daniel J. Corsi, Parmvir Parmar, Raymond Corrin, Gary Garber
Introduction. Many of the 300,000 HCV-infected Canadians live in under-served and remote areas without access to HCV healthcare specialists. Telemedicine (TM) and advances in HCV management can facilitate linkage of these marginalized patients to healthcare. Materials and methods. A cohort database analysis was performed on patients followed at The Ottawa Hospital and Regional Viral Hepatitis Program between January 2012 and August 2016. We compared patient characteristics, fibrosis work-up and antiviral treatment outcomes in TM (n = 157) and non-TM (n = 1,130) patients (The Ottawa Hospital Viral Hepatitis Outpatient Clinic) residing in Eastern Ontario. Results. TM patients were more often infected with genotype 3 (25.9% vs. 16.4%), were more commonly Indigenous (7.0% vs. 2.2%) had a history of injection drug use (70.1% vs. 54.9%) and incarceration (46.5% vs 35.5%). Groups were comparable in age (48.9 years), gender (63.7% male) and cirrhotic stage (24.0%). 59.2% of TM patients underwent transient elastography during regional outreach blitzes compared to 61.8% of non-TM patients (p = 0.54). Overall, half as many TM patients initiated antiviral therapy as non-TM patients (27.4% vs. 53.8%, p < 0.001). The introduction of DAA regimens is bridging this gap (22.2% of TM patients vs. 34.3% of non-TM patients). SVR rates with interferon-free, DAA regimens were 94.7% and 94.8% in TM and non-TM groups (p = 0.99). Conclusion. Our TM program engages and retains a population that faces many barriers to effective HCV treatment. TM patients initiated HCV therapy and achieved High SVR rates comparable to those obtained using traditional models of care.
Key words. Hepatitis C., Telemedicine., Direct Acting Antivirals.