Telemedicine Applications for the Evaluation of Patients with Non-Acute Headache: A Narrative Review

J Pain Res. 2021 Jun 1;14:1533-1542. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S309542. eCollection 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a hasty transition to virtual care but also an abundance of new literature highlighting telehealth’s capabilities and limitations for various healthcare applications. In this review, we aim to narrate the current state of the literature on telehealth applied to migraine care. First, telemedicine in the context of non-acute headache management has been shown to produce non-inferior patient outcomes when compared to traditional face-to-face appointments. The assignment of patients to telehealth appointments should be made after referring more urgent cases to dedicated in-person clinics. During the virtual appointment, physicians can ask their patients about the “3 F’s” in order to perform a thorough assessment of their headaches: frequency of headache days, frequency of acute medication usage and functional impairment. Clinical assessment scores that have been studied and deemed feasible for telemedicine, safe and efficient include the HIT-6, VAS and MIDAS scores. Although MIDAS was found to be redundant and inadequate to use on a daily basis, we suggest that it can be useful in periodic remote follow-up appointments. Additionally, several mobile health apps have been studied including Migraine Buddy, Migraine Coach and Migraine Monitor. All of these are appropriate for use in telemedicine when combined with an adequate trial period with Migraine Buddy being rated the highest, as it captures the most detailed clinical picture. High satisfaction rates have been reported for virtual headache management which were shown to be equal to in-person consults. These are based on patients’ perceived increase in convenience due to avoided travel time, less disruption of their daily routine and feeling more comfortable in the environment of their choice. Despite this, limitations such as technological knowledge, access to videoconferencing modalities and having a more impersonal consultation with the physician may hinder some patients from adopting this service.

PMID:34103978 | PMC:PMC8179807 | DOI:10.2147/JPR.S309542