Ambulatory care for epilepsy via telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic

Proleta Datta, Wattana Barrett, Monica Bentzinger, Tracy Jasinski, Lakshman Arcot Jayagopal, Alexa Mahoney, Crystal Pearon, Arun Swaminathan, Aditya Vuppala, Kaeli K. Samson, Hongmei Wang, Olga Taraschenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To assess feasibility, patient satisfaction, and financial advantages of telemedicine for epilepsy ambulatory care during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: The demographic and clinical characteristics of all consecutive patients evaluated via telemedicine at a level 4 epilepsy center between March 20 and April 20, 2020 were obtained retrospectively from electronic medical records. A telephone survey to assess patient satisfaction and preferences was conducted within one month following the initial visit. Results: Among 223 telehealth patients, 85.7% used both synchronous audio and video technology. During the visits, 39% of patients had their anticonvulsants adjusted while 18.8% and 11.2% were referred to laboratory/diagnostic testing and specialty consults, respectively. In a post-visit survey, the highest degree of satisfaction with care was expressed by 76.9% of patients. The degree of satisfaction tended to increase the further a patient lived from the clinic (p = 0.05). Beyond the pandemic, 89% of patients reported a preference for continuing telemedicine if their epilepsy symptoms remained stable, while only 44.4% chose telemedicine should their symptoms worsen. Inclement weather and lack of transportation were factors favoring continued use of telemedicine. An estimated cost saving to patient attributed to telemedicine was $30.20 ± 3.8 per visit. Significance: Our findings suggest that epilepsy care via telemedicine provided high satisfaction and economic benefit, without compromising patients’ quality of care, thereby supporting the use of virtual care during current and future epidemiological fallouts. Beyond the current pandemic, patients with stable seizure symptoms may prefer to use telemedicine for their epilepsy care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107740
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume116
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Ambulatory care
  • COVID-19
  • Healthcare access
  • Pandemic
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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