People with MS benefit from telehealth services

March 08, 2022
While many people skipped regular health check-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research indicates that people with multiple sclerosis used online telehealth services more frequently to keep in contact with their healthcare providers and were highly satisfied with the outcome.

The Kessler Foundation study examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare among individuals with MS. Researchers found high rates of healthcare disruption among individuals with MS and neurologically healthy individuals, but also found that people with MS were more likely to utilize telehealth services than people without MS.

Using online survey data collected between September and October 2020, researchers analyzed rates of healthcare disruptions (such as missing or canceling appointments and experiencing delays), and telehealth use for medical care and mental health care of individuals with and without MS.

According to the study, telehealth appointments almost doubled the rates of in-person medical care appointments and rates of mental telehealth appointments were more than five times higher than in-person appointments. Since individuals with MS require regular medical care, the onset of medical facility closures and social distancing measures during the early onset of the pandemic was cause for concern because healthcare providers understood this would pose a significant effect on the health of this population.

Researchers said more information is needed in order to gather data on the health insurance status of participants, as well as qualitative interviews with participants in order to further understand the nature of the health care disruptions.

The study was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

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