By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

A recent literature review revealed patients and caregivers alike expressed just as much satisfaction with telemedicine visits for certain neurological disorders as in-person office visits. Further, a diagnosis for these particular conditions via video may be just as effective as an in-person interaction.

Researchers examined 101 studies on telemedicine in concussion, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, dementia, headache, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, neuromuscular conditions, and general neurology. In their review, investigators observed a pattern of satisfaction with virtual visits from both caregivers and patients. Certain studies indicated telemedicine was just as effective as office visits when it comes to proper diagnoses.

“Telemedicine can be especially helpful for people with epilepsy, who may not be able to drive to appointments, people with neurologic disorders like multiple sclerosis and movement disorders, who may have mobility issues that make getting to a clinic difficult, and, of course, for people in rural areas who may not be able to see a neurologist based hours away without making that trip,” Jaime Hatcher-Martin, MD, PhD, co-lead author, said in a statement. “Another effective use may be for evaluating people with possible concussions, where telemedicine could be used on-site to make an immediate diagnosis. For sports injuries, it could be used to make a decision on whether the athlete is ready to return to the field.”

While promising, the review authors were careful to note there are few randomized, controlled studies of telemedicine for neurology (other than stroke conditions).

“We need to conduct further studies to better understand when virtual appointments are a good option for a patient,” Raghav Govindarajan, MD, co-lead author, added. “Keep in mind that telemedicine may not eliminate the need for people to meet with a neurologist in person. Rather, it is another tool that can help increase people’s access to care and also help lessen the burden of travel and costs for patients, providers and caregivers.”

The Relias Media telemedicine literature collection is deep and diverse. Speaking of telemedicine and neurology, the August 2019 issue of ED Management includes a detailed analysis of a Connecticut hospital’s telemedicine hookup that connects with its own neurologists at home when a potential stroke patient presents to the ED during off-hours or on weekends. Facility leaders already are considering other uses for their telemedicine tool, such as connecting patients who present to the ED with behavioral health concerns with needed psychiatric expertise.

The November 2019 issue of Case Management Advisor includes an article about a telemedicine program using a case management model to help postpartum women manage hypertensive disorders. So far, the program has improved postpartum engagement with follow-up care, partly because it was more convenient for new mothers to test their own blood pressure and text the results rather than drive to a clinic and wait for an appointment.

The January 2020 issue of Same-Day Surgery includes two articles about the possible benefits of using telemedicine for surgical patients, both to help them prepare for the procedure and to monitor recovery after.

For more evidence-based summaries of the latest clinical neurology research, check out recent issues of Neurology Alert.