JMIR mHealth and uHealth (Jul 2020)

A Comprehensive App That Improves Tuberculosis Treatment Management Through Video-Observed Therapy: Usability Study

  • Guo, Xujun,
  • Yang, Yarui,
  • Takiff, Howard E,
  • Zhu, Minmin,
  • Ma, Jianping,
  • Zhong, Tao,
  • Fan, Yuzheng,
  • Wang, Jian,
  • Liu, Shengyuan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 7
p. e17658


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BackgroundTreatment of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) requires at least six months and is compromised by poor adherence. In the directly observed therapy (DOT) scheme recommended by the World Health Organization, the patient is directly observed taking their medications at a health post. An alternative to DOT is video-observed therapy (VOT), in which the patients take videos of themselves taking the medication and the video is uploaded into the app and reviewed by a health care worker. We developed a comprehensive TB management system by using VOT that is installed as an app on the smartphones of both patients and health care workers. It was implemented into the routine TB control program of the Nanshan District of Shenzhen, China. ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of VOT with that of DOT in managing the treatment of patients with pulmonary TB and to evaluate the acceptance of VOT for TB management by patients and health care workers. MethodsPatients beginning treatment between September 2017 and August 2018 were enrolled into the VOT group and their data were compared with the retrospective data of patients who began TB treatment and were managed with routine DOT between January 2016 and August 2017. Sociodemographic characteristics, clinical features, treatment adherence, positive findings of sputum smears, reporting of side effects, time and costs of transportation, and satisfaction were compared between the 2 treatment groups. The attitudes of the health care workers toward the VOT-based system were also analyzed. ResultsThis study included 158 patients in the retrospective DOT group and 235 patients in the VOT group. The VOT group showed a significantly higher fraction of doses observed (P85% of their doses observed, while only 16.4% (26/158) of the DOT patients had >85% of their doses observed. All patients were cured without recurrences. The VOT management required significantly (P<.001) less median patient time (300 minutes vs 1240 minutes, respectively) and transportation costs (¥53 [US $7.57] vs ¥276 [US $39.43], respectively; P<.001) than DOT. Significantly more patients (191/235, 81.3%) in the VOT group preferred their treatment method compared to those on DOT (37/131, 28.2%) (P<.001), and 92% (61/66) of the health care workers thought that the VOT method was more convenient than DOT for managing patients with TB. ConclusionsImplementation of the VOT-based system into the routine program of TB management was simple and it significantly increased patient adherence to their drug regimens. Our study shows that a comprehensive VOT-based TB management represents a viable and improved evolution of DOT.