Telemedicine Pilot proven ‘Very Effective’ For Epilepsy Patients
By Steve Long(epilepsyresearch.org.uk):
A telemedicine programme being piloted in the US has been met with “very positive” feedback, clinicians have reported.
Telemedicine describes the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide healthcare at a distance. Video conferencing, for instance, could be used to connect a patient to their doctor as an alternative to a check-up in person.
The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital has been using these techniques as an experimental adjunct to annual clinical visits for paediatric epilepsy patients. Medscape Medical News reports that according to a recent survey of the families involved, responses have been uniformly positive.
Joshi Charuta, director of paediatric medicine at the hospital, told the publication: “Our families find telemedicine is convenient and makes their life much easier. Overall, they are very satisfied.”
Dr Charuta, who presented the survey results at the Child Neurology Society 2013 Annual Meeting, explained that providing ongoing care to an epilepsy patient can be difficult due to the long distances some individuals have to travel.
Adults with the neurological condition are often unable to drive for risk of experiencing a seizure behind the wheel, while children taken to regular check-ups can miss school as a result.
US medical authorities currently recommend that patients undertake a clinical visit once a year with additional appointments as and when needed. According to Dr Charuta, these extra check-ups are usually used for the patient or carer to ask questions about drug side effects or dose management – queries that could reasonably be dealt with over the internet.
In the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital follow-up survey, nine out of 12 carers ‘completely agreed’ that they felt comfortable talking about the same things using telemedicine as in person, and the remaining three ‘agreed’.
Meanwhile, 11 out of 12 either ‘completely agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that technology made it easier for them to access healthcare, while the remaining carer ‘neither agreed nor disagreed’.
Commenting on the results, chief executive of the American Telemedicine Association Jonathan Linkous said: “I’ve seen probably hundreds of surveys of patient acceptance of telemedicine – they all like it.”