Miguel D'Haeseleer , MD, PhD , 1 , 2 , 3 , Piet Eelen , RNCS 2 , Nima Sadeghi , BMBS 3 , Marie B D'Hooghe , MD, PhD 1 , 2 , 3 , Jeroen Van Schependom , MEng, PhD 1 , 2 , 3 , Guy Nagels , MD, MEng, PhD 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
13 August 2020
Telemedicine (TM) is currently flourishing in rural and emergency settings, but its implementation in the routine management of chronic neurological disorders has developed with more hesitation. Limited access to specialized care facilities and expanding patient populations, combined with unprecedented mobility restrictions imposed by the coronavirus disease pandemic, are currently stressing the need for remote solutions in this field. Studies in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have been heterogeneous in objectives and methodology but generally support the concept that TM interventions produce clinical benefits, cost-effectiveness, and user satisfaction. Nonetheless, data on live interaction between patients and health care providers for MS teleconsultation purposes remain scarce.
The aim of this study is to demonstrate the feasibility of planned real time audiovisual teleconsultation over the internet for patients with MS.
A total of 20 patients with MS presenting at a specialized MS center in Belgium were recruited for this study. One teleconsultation was scheduled for each participant. Patients were provided a unique hyperlink by mail in advance, leading them automatically and directly to the virtual waiting room, where they could accept or decline our incoming call. All teleconsultations were performed by a trained medical student with the intention to keep the conversation similar to what is usually discussed during a classic face-to-face MS consultation; no remote physical exams were performed. The approach was considered feasible if at least 80% of the planned TM visits could be successfully completed at the foreseen moment. Patient satisfaction (technical quality, convenience, and overall quality of care) was evaluated at the end of each teleconsultation by means of 5-point Likert scales containing the categories very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, neutral, satisfied, and highly satisfied.
Out of 20 consultations, 17 were successfully completed (85%). Failures were due to patients not responding (n=2) and technical issues (n=1). Out of the 17 consultations, 17 patients declared themselves satisfied or highly satisfied for technical quality, 15 patients for convenience, and 16 patients for overall quality of care.