Can Telementoring Reduce Urban-Rural Disparities in Utilization of Direct-Acting Antiviral Agents?

Ping Du, Xi Wang, Lan Kong, Jeah Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Expanding access to direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) for treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the national goal for HCV elimination, but important urban-rural disparities exist in DAA use. Evidence is needed to evaluate intervention efforts to reduce urban-rural disparities in DAA utilization. Methods: We used Medicare data to compare DAA use between urban HCV patients and rural HCV patients in two states: State A with a telementoring approach to train rural providers to treat HCV patients and State B without such an intervention. We focused on DAA utilization among newly diagnosed HCV patients in 2014-2016 and defined DAA use as filling at least one prescription of DAAs during 2014-2017. We classified patient's urban-rural status based on their ZIP code of residence. We assessed overtime changes in urban-rural disparities in DAA utilization for each state using multivariable cause-specific Cox regression analyses with time-varying hazard ratios. Results: Among 1,872 new HCV patients in State A, 135 (17.00%) rural patients and 243 (22.54%) urban patients received DAAs in 2014-2017. Although there was noticeable urban-rural disparities in DAA use during the first 24 months of follow-up (hazard ratios [HRs] = 0.73 [0.51 to 1.03] for 0-12 months and 0.61 [0.39 to 0.95] for 13-24 months), the disparities became nonsignificant afterward (HR = 1.06 [0.58 to 1.93] after 24 months). Most DAA users in rural areas (94, 70%) in State A received DAAs prescribed by primary care providers (PCPs). In State B, among 8,928 new HCV patients, 227 (18.22%) rural patients and 1,600 (20.83%) urban patients received DAAs in 2014-2017. Rural patients were less likely to receive DAAs over time (HR = 1.12 [0.93 to 1.36] in the first 12 months and HR = 0.62 [0.40 to 0.96] after 24 months). Only 81 (36%) DAA users in rural areas in State B were treated by PCPs. Conclusions: Our study suggests that the telementoring approach may help reduce urban-rural disparities in DAA utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-494
Number of pages7
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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