There are very few medical specialties today that can’t utilize telemedicine. From cardiology to oncology, radiology to psychiatry, with just an internet connection and video conferencing technology, patients and providers can meet at anytime, anywhere. One specialty field that is leveraging telemedicine and opening the door for millions of patients to receive care is teleneurology.
What is teleneurology?
Teleneurology is the process of providing neurological healthcare services to a patient from a remote physician.
100 million Americans are effected by neurological disorders. With neurological costs in the United States estimated to be around $789 billion per year and growing, cost effective solutions expand access and provide care for neurological conditions is vital. That’s why hospitals, clinics, and health systems have turned to teleneurology to manage and treat a wide range of neurological conditions. Below are 5 applications of teleneurology.
Teleneurology for stroke care
Often referred to as telestroke, assessing and treating stroke patients through video conferencing technology is one of the most common applications for teleneurology – and for good reason. As the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. and affecting nearly 800,000 patients per year, instant access to a remote neurologist has the potential to save lives and improve the chances of recovery for thousands of patients.
For rural hospitals and areas with limited access to an onsite neurologist, teleneurology provides stroke patients with quicker access to the clot dissolving drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Instead of transferring patients to neighboring hospitals and wasting precious time, tPA can be quickly administered in the emergency department (ED) with the recommendation of a teleneurologist. This significantly improves the chances of positive patient outcome and recovery. In fact, studies have shown that door-to-needle times are nearly cut in half when using teleneurology in an emergency department (ED) setting.
Teleneurology for epilepsy
There are 3.4 million people with epilepsy in the United States. With a critical shortage in neurologists who specialize in epilepsy, many of these patients drive hours for treatment, management strategy, and to coordinate care. Teleneurology enables these patients to receive care closer to home with instant access to specialists.
Teleneurology is especially beneficial for family members of epileptic patients. Many times, epileptic patients don’t remember the events surrounding the epileptic episode or are aware of their symptoms. By counseling with a neurologist remotely, family members can provide details to better understand the circumstances of the episode and develop treatment and management plans in response to these details.
Teleneurology for multiple sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness involving the central nervous system. For many patients, mobility is limited and traveling for treatment requires the assistance of either a care giver or assistance from a loved one. With teleneurology, patients have saved an average of $144 in travel and lodging costs per telemedicine visit.
As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, many MS patients are utilizing teleneurology to receive care, monitor symptoms, and access treatment, while remaining safe from exposure to the virus.
Teleneurology for headaches
Headache pain can range from mild to debilitating and vary between frequent to infrequent. Fortunately, teleneurology enables patients to receive the same level of care remotely as they would an in-person visit. The ability to meet with a teleneurologist away from the noise and distractions of a busy ED environment allows for a more focused, one-on-one consultation where the specialist can look for subtle clues that may help with identifying the cause of the headaches.
If the patient begins to exhibit signs outside of typical headache symptoms, then the teleneurologist can immediately request additional tests and scans.
Teleneurology for concussions
Concussions are a form of mild traumatic brain injury that, if left untreated, has the potential to lead to life threating conditions. Each year, nearly 3.8 million brain injuries occur with nearly 75% related to sports injuries. Teleneurology provides a solution to immediately diagnosis, treat, and provide follow up care to concussion patients.
The Mayo Clinic recently conducted a study on the feasibility and accuracy of using teleneurology to treat concussions and found that concussion diagnosis aligned 100% with on-site assessments.
There are endless applications for teleneurology that enable hospitals and health systems to improve patient outcomes, streamline care, and, ultimately, see more patients. By utilizing teleneurologists, hospitals and health systems can provide care for a wide range of neurological conditions, from stroke care to concussions, to headaches and epilepsy, and much more.
Adopting teleneurology is easier than you think. To learn how a telemedicine partner can streamline implementation and help your telemedicine program succeed, schedule a demo today.