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Telemedicine Proves Value in Managing Migraine

Two new studies of the usefulness of telemedicine in treating migraine patients shows it to be as effective as in-office visits, especially in patient follow-up evaluations and in improving a patient's likelihood of getting the right medications. The studies, at Mercy Virtual in St. Louis, and at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, were presented to some 1,000 migraine specialists and researchers at the 57th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society.

Telemedicine, which uses telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care at a distance and connect health professionals and patients in different locations, is increasing popular as a way to extend medical services and improve efficiency.

In the Mercy Virtual study, investigators found that using Mercy's Virtual TeleHeadache capability significantly improved the patient's likelihood of being prescribed acute and preventative medication consistent with evidence-based guidelines.

"Given its portability and scalability, telemedicine offers the possibility of expanding the reach of providers who can deliver world-class migraine care regardless of the patient's location," says Timothy R. Smith, MD, of Mercy Clinic Headache Center/Mercy Virtual, lead author of the study.

Smith and his team found that 77.4% of those who received migraine care via TeleHeadache were prescribed or recommended evidence-based acute medication vs 27% of those who received care locally. 

In the UT Southwestern and Simon Business School study, patients were randomized to either receive in-person follow-up visits or follow-up visits via telemedicine. Investigators compared the feasibility, clinical effectiveness, and patient satisfaction of telemedicine with that of in-person visits, and looked at the economic value of using telemedicine for patient care. 

"We found that telemedicine is effective in conducting follow-up evaluations for patients with migraine," says Deborah I. Friedman, MD, MPH, FAAN, a professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics and ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, "and we also believe telemedicine adds economic value for patients and results in a high degree of patient satisfaction."

"Besides clinical efficacy, we are looking at various patient centered performance measures, as well as the overall economics of this approach," says Abraham Seidmann, a professor of operations management from Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. "The initial results are very promising, and we have discovered some important counterintuitive lessons, which are critical for the successful deployment of this information technology on a larger scale."

Source: American Headache Society