Clinic to in-home telemedicine reduces barriers to care for patients with MS or other neuroimmunologic conditions

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the routine use of telemedicine-enabled neurologic care in an academic outpatient MS and neuroimmunology clinic and quantify its role in reducing patient burden.

Methods

Between January 2017 and December 2017, we surveyed patients and MS neurologists after 50 consecutive routinely scheduled televideo visits and a convenience sample of 100 in-clinic visits. Summary statistics were calculated and comparisons performed.

Results

Overall, 98% televideo participants found the technology easy to use, and only 17% believed that an in-person examination would have more effectively addressed their needs for the visit. MS neurologists reported achieving their clinical goals in 47/48 (98%) of televideo visits and an adequate physical examination with 2 exceptions (possible cauda equina syndrome and visual field loss). Three emergency department referrals were avoided due to televideo availability. Telemedicine reduced travel burden, including a mean (±SD) travel distance of 160 (±196) miles and avoiding overnight lodging and air travel. Telemedicine also reduced indirect costs, including time off work (65% of employed patients) and caregiver burden (30% avoided caregiver time off from work/obligations). Across 8 domains of provider interpersonal communication skills, telemedicine and in-clinic participants rated only 1 domain to be different (eye contact), and overall, 96% of in-clinic and 100% of telemedicine participants agreed/strongly agreed that their clinical goals had been met.

Conclusions

When incorporated as part of the continuum of MS/neuroimmunology care, clinic to in-home telemedicine reduces travel and caregiver burden and enables efficient, convenient, and effective follow-up.

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