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March 2015

Advantages and Limitations of Teleneurology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh Medical School and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA Neurol. 2015;72(3):349-354. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.3844

Importance  The growing disparity between the demand for neurological services and the need for neurologists requires new and innovative strategies for delivering care. Teleneurology allows neurological expertise to be delivered to remote locations to supplement or replace in-person neurological care.

Objective  To summarize the current status of teleneurology. Applications of teleneurology include acute care, outpatient teleneurology, and teleconsultations. Existing barriers to further expansion of teleneurology are also discussed.

Evidence Review  Published studies pertaining to teleneurology were reviewed. Practical experience with telemedicine in neurological practice contributed to the conclusions.

Findings  Outcomes after intravenous tissue plasminogen activator treatment via telemedicine (telestroke) are similar to those achieved with in-person evaluations. Other aspects of teleneurology are less established but have demonstrated feasibility, high patient satisfaction, and, in some cases, cost savings.

Conclusions and Relevance  Teleneurology provides neurological expertise to rural areas with limited availability of neurologists and improves care for patients with difficulty traveling owing to neurological disease. It is likely that use of teleneurology will continue to grow and become incorporated into many aspects of neurological practice. Understanding the advantages and limitations of teleneurology is vital to delivering optimal clinical care for patients with neurological disease regardless of the setting.

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