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Teleneurology on par with in-person care for MS

Reuters Health - 18/10/2021 - Adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) receiving teleneurology care have similar outcomes as peers receiving in-person care, new research indicates.

"Teleneurology clearly has value and it's been widely adopted during the pandemic for a variety of conditions including MS," Dr. Marisa McGinley, with the Mellon Center for Multiple Sclerosis at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, noted in a phone interview with Reuters Health.

There's a lot of data showing feasibility of, and satisfaction with, teleneurology, from a patient and provider perspective but there is "minimal to no evidence on how it impacts clinical outcomes," Dr. McGinley explained.

"That was really the essence of this study - to look at outcomes and make sure first that we're not doing any harm to patients by not bringing them into the office," said Dr. McGinley, who presented at the 2021 European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) congress.

The study included 2,131 MS patients who made at least two in-person visits 12 months apart from January 2019 to December 2020. The outcomes of 1,905 patients with fully in-person care were compared with those of 226 patients with a combination of teleneurology and in-person care.

After adjusting for demographic and disease characteristics, patients who received teleneurology had no significant difference in manual dexterity, processing speed, or walking speed compared to patients with only in-person care.

"The bar was low in this study. We weren't looking for statistically significant improvements in outcomes, because in MS typically our outcomes don't change dramatically within a year's time. But we were very happy to see that patients were doing just as well with teleneurology care as with in-person care," Dr. McGinley told Reuters Health.

"The hope would be that outcomes could be improved by integrating teleneurology into MS care. But I think that is a longer-term goal," Dr. McGinley said.

She said future studies are needed to determine the optimal combination or "dosing" of teleneurology and in-person visits for patients with MS.

"I think that the use of teleneurology is going to be standard and is going to continue. Most of our patients are very receptive to it and want to continue it - and same thing goes from a clinician standpoint," Dr. McGinley said.

The study had no specific funding.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3aLiPSl 37th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS 2021), held online October 13-15, 2021.

By Megan Brooks

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Medicom Medical Publishers.
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