The following article is part of conference coverage from the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis 2020 Forum in West Palm Beach, Florida. Neurology Advisor‘s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from the ACTRIMS 2020 Forum.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL — Home telehealth may be a feasible and safe option for veterans with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have difficulty accessing services from the Department of Veterans Affairs or community services, according to study results presented at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2020 Forum held from February 27 to 29, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Nearly 45% of veterans with MS and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who receive care from the Department of Veterans Affairs live in rural areas that make geographic distance a barrier to care. Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) connects veterans to subspecialty providers and may improve veterans’ access to care. The objective of study researchers was to determine whether CVT may improve or maintain independent functioning and health-related quality of life in veterans with MS and improve care coordination, caregiver burden, travel mileage, and screening procedures for veterans with ALS.
In this study, veterans with MS and ALS at 13 national sites were enrolled in a dual CVT comprehensive care and rehabilitation program. Patients had face-to-face medical assessments with an MS or ALS specialist, and had their functioning assessed by a licensed physical therapist. Patients also received training on how to use the telehealth device, as well as education on the plan of care.
Researchers found that satisfaction with CVT was greater than 95% among patients, caregivers, and providers who used the service. CVT saved time, mileage, and costs for veterans; decreased caregiver burden; and increased access to care in areas where fee-based care was unavailable or face-to-face care would have required significant travel.
The study researchers concluded that CVT is feasible and safe for veterans with MS and ALS who cannot easily access health care from the community or the Veterans Health Administration.
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Kunce AL, Fritz J. Home delivery of provider care and physical therapy utilizing clinical video telehealth in the VA for veterans with MS and ALS. Abstract presented at: ACTRIMS 2020 Forum; February 27-29, 2020; West Palm Beach, FL. Abstract P280.