The following article is part of conference coverage from the 8th Joint American Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) and European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) MSVirtual2020 event. Neurology Advisor‘s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. .
While both recognize the importance of a telemedicine approach, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) appear more prepared and ready to use telemedicine than their physicians during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to study results presented at the 8th Joint American Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) and European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) MSVirtual2020 event, held September 11-13, 2020.
During the COVID-19 era, patients and clinicians alike increased their use of telemedicine platforms, particularly for routine evaluations that do not require in-person office visits. Study researchers sought to understand the acceptability and satisfaction of telemedicine among patients with MS and the neurologists who care for them.
This study consisted of a brief survey which was administered to a group of patients with multiple sclerosis and their neurologists at an MS center of a hospital in Milan, Italy. 151 patients completed the survey. Approximately 75% of the patient cohort consisted of women. The mean age of participants was 42.2 years, and the median Expanded Disability Status Scale was 1.5. Treatments included interferon (10%), glatiramer acetate (10%), teriflunomide (14%), dimethylfumarate (22%), fingolimod (23%), cladribine (3%), alemtuzumab (8%), and ocrelizumab (10%).
87% of patients said that they appreciated telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrastingly, responses from 82% supported traditional in-office evaluations and their importance in clinical care. Less than half (44%) of participants said that they would alternate in-person and remote telemedicine visits, whereas 38% “strongly preferred” traditional evaluations. About 10% held a positive opinion of telemedicine but required traditional evaluations. Only 3% of respondents were not satisfied with telemedicine.
The primary reasons given for the strong preference toward in-person evaluations included the need for human empathy with the neurologist, as well as the belief that in-person examinations would lead to better clinical outcomes. Only 18% of respondents said that they would always use telemedicine except if an acute event occurred.
None of the 18 neurologists and residents surveyed said that they would use telemedicine as their only tool for evaluating patients. One-third (33%) of clinicians said that they would alternate telemedicine visits with traditional evaluations, whereas 67% said they would use remote visits only in special situations.
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Moiola L, Cristinzi MD, Guerrieri S, et al. Telemedicine in/outside the pandemic: a survey about satisfaction of this tool in a cohort of multiple sclerosis patients and their neurologists. Presented at: 8th Joint American Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis and European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis MSVirtual2020 event; September 11-13, 20120. Abstract P0666.