Why we need to understand what happened to child neurology back in March 2020

Looking back. The beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic seem so long ago. Looking back at the early days of the pandemic from May 2022 may not seem to provide much information. Now that we are more than two years into the pandemic, our understanding, management, and treatment of COVID-19 has significantly evolved. So why would it be important to look back at what happened in the very early stages, especially when we consider pediatric neurological disorders? In brief, examining the early stages of the pandemic can provide insights into the robustness of child neurology care amid a crisis. In a recent publication, we did just this. Using data from more than 27,000 patients in seven pediatric tertiary care centers, we looked back at what happened to hospital-based child neurology care in the first six weeks of the Shelter-in-Place orders aka the “shutdown”. The results were disturbing. Even for child neurology emergencies, we found more than a 50% reduction of hospital admissions. In this blog post, we would like to review how the initial shutdown shook the foundations of child neurology. Continue reading

Ten steps ahead while six feet apart – telemedicine in child neurology

Telehealth. Yes, looking at my last post, this blog has been silent for a while. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it has been difficult to find a good launching point to write about genetic epilepsies again without somehow feeling that I’m missing the point with regards to the major challenges that the epilepsy genetic community is facing in 2020. But was has actually happened in epilepsy genetics in the United States during the pandemic? In parallel to the dramatic medical issues at the frontline, something very interesting has happened in the background – the shift from in-person medicine to telemedicine, including the vast majority of outpatient visits in child neurology. Telemedicine, remote healthcare services that include audio and video equipment, has long been technically feasible, but has led a niche existence due to licensing restrictions and lack of reimbursement. However, this all changed quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. But did this transition work? Is telemedicine really as effective as suggested and were we able to provide care along the entire spectrum of disorders in child neurology, including the genetic epilepsies? In a new publication in Neurology, we analyzed more than 2,500 telehealth visits in child neurology, facilitated by a new healthcare analytics pipeline that we built in response to the challenges of the telemedicine transition. Continue reading