A recent study concluded that the three most burdensome neurological disorders in the United States are stroke, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and migraine. The population suffering from these conditions has increased over the last decade, and many need high-level care to reduce the severity of the illnesses. However, throughout the country, there is a significant gap between the demand for neurologists and their availability to provide these vital services.
It is estimated that 18% of healthcare workers have quit their jobs over the last two years, 12% have been laid off, and 31% have considered leaving. This current mismatch decreases access to care, worsens patient outcomes, contributes to provider burnout, and has been deemed so problematic that the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) characterizes the shortage as a "grave threat" to providing high-quality patient care.
That is why recently, Neurology on the Hill (NOH), a two-day program organized by the AAN, gathered a group of 160 neurologists from 41 states on Capitol Hill to address the shortages in the neurology workforce. Specifically, they aimed to ask lawmakers to remove obstacles to timely patient care by backing bills that would expand telehealth services.
Telemedicine programs can help alleviate the neurologist shortage
Many hospitals are taking note and implementing programs not only for the conditions listed previously but also for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson's, to name a few. By utilizing a platform in conjunction with an established medical facility, patients can receive care faster with a qualified specialist, resulting in better outcomes. For example, one such hospital reported that before implementing a telestroke program, it would take an average of up to an hour for a patient to see a neurologist. After their virtual neurology program was in place, the average diagnosis took only 18 minutes – a valuable time difference when every second counts.
Teleneurology works by a neurologist connecting to the patient virtually while the patient is either in a hospital setting or physician's office. Just like an in-person visit, the teleneurologist can do an assessment of the patient, look at test results, ask questions, and conduct an exam with the help of an in-person provider or caregiver. With telemedicine, qualified teleneurologists are available to patients regardless of geographic location, reducing wait times and minimizing transfers, costs, and unnecessary testing.
Telemedicine programs also help eliminate provider burnout
A considerable number of neurologists are leaving the profession because they are overworked, weary of dealing with administrative hassles, and exhausted from the strain of working during a pandemic. However, many of these professionals still want to find a way to serve the needs of patients without overwhelming themselves.
Telemedicine is perhaps a perfect fit for some. Many virtual doctors appreciate having a more flexible schedule, as they can practice from the comfort of their homes while also choosing their hours. They can pursue outside interests by balancing work and life, and still treat patients without an overburdened schedule, distractions in a busy hospital environment, or administrative red-tape. Telemedicine allows neurologists and other providers to get back to doing what they are passionate about – helping patients.
Teleneurology is delivering critical neurological care
At a time when it has never been more paramount, teleneurology is positioned to deliver better patient outcomes, remove barriers to care, and lessen the load placed on medical facilities and their providers. Please contact us if you want to learn more about how teleneurology can make a difference to your practice and your patients.
If you'd like a custom telemedicine solution for your hospital, get started with a consultation today!