When telemedicine in child neurology does not work as expected

Telemedicine. Admittedly, this is a strange title for a blog post. This is a blog on epilepsy genetics, so why do we concern ourselves with telemedicine again? To make a long story short, telemedicine was the main avenue for outpatient child neurology care during the early phases of the pandemic. In the later phases of the pandemic, many centers have used a hybrid care model of in-person and telemedicine care. Evaluations for epilepsy genetics are more frequently performed via telemedicine than other child neurology indications, at least at some centers. Accordingly, for an epilepsy genetics team, understanding how well telemedicine works is highly relevant. Typically, scientific publications emphasize the successes of telemedicine. However, in a recent publication, we asked the opposite question: what happens when telemedicine does not work? 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