Background:

Telemedicine provides a gateway to specialty care that, otherwise, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) could have difficulty accessing. Studies have shown that telemedicine provides a valid alternative to in-person visits. There are limited data on the strengths and limitations of telemedicine from the perspective of MS providers.

Methods:

After reviewing the literature and pilot testing questions about telemedicine in provider focus groups, a 34-question survey was created on the Qualtrics web platform. A stratified sample of MS providers throughout the United States was recruited to participate. The survey initiated in November 2019 and closed in November 2020.

Results:

Survey participants (N = 94) included neurologists (43.0%), advanced practice providers (28.0%), nurses (14.0%), mental health providers (7.0%), social workers (3.0%), rehabilitation providers (4.0%), and pharmacists (1.0%). Clinical video telemedicine (CVT) was the most commonly used platform, and 76.6% of respondents indicated that they used telemedicine to care for patients with MS. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of telemedicine use increased from 44.4% to 84.2%. Most health care providers (93.0%) were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their most recent telemedicine visit, and 94.4% of providers reported a desire to continue using telemedicine, although 84.6% found it difficult to perform a full examination.

Conclusions:

There was a large uptick in the use of telemedicine when the COVID-19 pandemic forced clinics to cease in-person visits. Providers predominantly used CVT; store-and-forward telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have fewer technical issues than CVT and seem to be underused.

This content is only available as a PDF.