Scientists have developed a smartphone video-based app that could be a more effective replacement for a day-to-day in-person visit by a health care worker required for tuberculosis (TB) treatment.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in the US described the application which provides video Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), as per a journal – Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
"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," says Samuel Holzman, a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University.
TB requires corrective measures to ensure that patients stick to treatment. These suggestions include provisions for home or hospital based isolation or sometimes forced isolation for infectious individuals.
The bacteria that causes infectious TB, can hang in the air for extended periods when thrown out by the coughs or saliva of patients, spreading to others present in the room or through building’s ventilation.
Many people with active TB also have relatively few symptoms, allowing the bacteria to spread before a diagnosis is made.
To test the effectiveness of video DOT, the researchers conducted a pilot study utilizing the widely-available smartphone application developed by emocha Mobile Health in conjunction with Maunank Shah, and other clinician-scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
As many as 28 adult TB patients being treated at three health departments in Maryland participated in the pilot study.
The patients had their therapy monitored using the video DOT app in the present of in-person visits by a health care worker.
The researchers found that patient adherence to treatment was almost the same between the DOT application and in-person DOT.