Telehealth as a new care delivery model: The headache provider experience

This article was originally published here

Headache. 2021 Jul 26. doi: 10.1111/head.14150. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To assess telehealth practice for headache visits in the United States.

BACKGROUND: The rapid roll out of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted headache specialists.

METHODS: American Headache Society (AHS) members were emailed an anonymous survey (9/9/20-10/12/20) to complete if they had logged ≥2 months or 50+ headache visits via telehealth.

RESULTS: Out of 1348 members, 225 (16.7%) responded. Most were female (59.8%; 113/189). Median age was 47 (interquartile range [IQR] 37-57) (N = 154). The majority were MD/DOs (83.7%; 159/190) or NP/PAs (14.7%; 28/190), and most (65.1%; 123/189) were in academia. Years in practice were 0-3: 28; 4-10: 58; 11-20: 42; 20+: 61. Median number of telehealth visits was 120 (IQR 77.5-250) in the prior 3 months. Respondents were “comfortable/very comfortable” treating via telehealth (a) new patient with a chief complaint of headache (median, IQR 4 [3-5]); (b) follow-up for migraine (median, IQR 5 [5-5]); (c) follow-up for secondary headache (median, IQR 4 [3-4]). About half (51.1%; 97/190) offer urgent telehealth. Beyond being unable to perform procedures, top barriers were conducting parts of the neurologic exam (157/189), absence of vital signs (117/189), and socioeconomic/technologic barriers (91/189). Top positive attributes were patient convenience (185/190), reducing patient travel stress (172/190), patient cost reduction (151/190), flexibility with personal matters (128/190), patient comfort at home (114/190), and patient medications nearby (103/190). Only 21.3% (33/155) of providers said telehealth visit length differed from in-person visits, and 55.3% (105/190) believe that the no-show rate improved. On a 1-5 Likert scale, providers were “interested”/”very interested” in digitally prescribing headache apps (median 4, IQR 3-5) and “interested”/”very interested” in remotely monitoring patient symptoms (median 4, IQR 3-5).

CONCLUSIONS: Respondents were comfortable treating patients with migraine via telehealth. They note positive attributes for patients and how access may be improved. Technology innovations (remote vital signs, digitally prescribing headache apps) and remote symptom monitoring are areas of interest and warrant future research.

PMID:34309828 | DOI:10.1111/head.14150