Lindhagen S, Karling P
Scand J Gastroenterol - (-) 1-6 [2021-10-26; online 2021-10-26]
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic abruptly switched the healthcare service for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) towards a telemedicine dominated approach. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of this switch on monitoring of patients and on disease activity. The pre-pandemic year included 868 patients and the first year of the pandemic included 891 patients. Medical records were retrospectively checked for contacts, changes in medical treatment, performed fecal calprotectin (FC) tests and colonoscopies. The scheduled follow-up visits to a doctor for patients with IBD shifted from mostly face-to-face pre-pandemic (from 389 to 118 appointments) to mostly telephone-based during the pandemic (from 13 to 423 appointments). There was a 21.3% increase in mean overall scheduled health contacts (p < .001) and a 20.0% increase for the mean number of FC tests (p < .001) in the year of the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic year. The proportion of patients who had a surveillance colonoscopy was significant lower in the year of the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic year (12.7% vs 20.1%; p = .002). There were no difference in the proportion of patients with a median FC > 200 mg/kg (18.2% vs 17.1%; p = .767) and in the proportion of patients who changed their medical treatment (24.7% vs 23.9%; p = .713) in the first year of the pandemic compared to the prepandemic year. The shift towards a telemedicine oriented IBD healthcare service in the first year of the pandemic significantly increased the scheduled contacts, as well as the frequency of FC testing. However, there was a significant decrease in performed surveillance colonoscopies. Between the two periods observed, the patients showed no difference in medical treatment or in disease activity.