Telepresence robots (TR) present the versatility to effectively provide remote educational sessions for patients affected by glaucoma to improve disease knowledge. Given COVID-19’s effect on clinical practice, TR can maintain social distancing when educating patients.
TR are devices that allow remote users to have a mobile presence anywhere. We compared the effect of an education session given by an in-person educator versus a TR on glaucoma knowledge and identified factors that impact patient education.
Eighty-five glaucoma patients were split into control, human, and TR groups. We measured glaucoma knowledge scores (KS) using the National Eye Institute’s Eye-Q Test. Human and TR groups had the education session with a human or TR followed by the questionnaire. The control group was administered the questionnaire without an education session. Treatment regimen recall (RR) >90% was considered a success. We used linear regression and binary logistic regression to determine variables that affect KS and RR, respectively.
Mean age was 58.3±2.8 years. 49% were female. Mean KS were 5.8±0.7 in the control group (n=31), 7.9±0.5 in the TR group (n=26), and 8.4±0.5 in the human group (n=28). Control participants had a lower mean KS than the human or TR groups (P<0.001). Having the education session (2.5, P<0.001), education greater than high school (0.8, P=0.016), and diabetes (−0.7, P=0.037) affected KS. Having diabetes (odds ratio=0.14, P=0.014) negatively affected RR. Having the education session may affect RR (odds ratio=5.47, P=0.07), warranting additional studies.
Education sessions with a human and TR improved patients’ glaucoma KS. TRs may serve as an alternative to in-person education sessions and allow educators to safely and effectively educate patients remotely to adhere to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.