Curr Opin Neurol. 2021 May 14. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000953. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The COVID-pandemic has facilitated the implementation of telemedicine in both clinical practice and research. We highlight recent developments in three promising areas of telemedicine: teleconsultation, telemonitoring, and teletreatment. We illustrate this using Parkinson’s disease as a model for other chronic neurological disorders.
RECENT FINDINGS: Teleconsultations can reliably administer parts of the neurological examination remotely, but are typically not useful for establishing a reliable diagnosis. For follow-ups, teleconsultations can provide enhanced comfort and convenience to patients, and provide opportunities for blended and proactive care models. Barriers include technological challenges, limited clinician confidence, and a suboptimal clinician-patient relationship. Telemonitoring using wearable sensors and smartphone-based apps can support clinical decision-making, but we lack large-scale randomized controlled trials to prove effectiveness on clinical outcomes. Increasingly many trials are now incorporating telemonitoring as an exploratory outcome, but more work remains needed to demonstrate its clinical meaningfulness. Finding a balance between benefits and burdens for individual patients remains vital. Recent work emphasised the promise of various teletreatment solutions, such as remotely adjustable deep brain stimulation parameters, virtual reality enhanced exercise programs, and telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy. Personal contact remains essential to ascertain adherence to teletreatment.
SUMMARY: The availability of different telemedicine tools for remote consultation, monitoring, and treatment is increasing. Future research should establish whether telemedicine improves outcomes in routine clinical care, and further underpin its merits both as intervention and outcome in research settings.