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Multiple Sclerosis Journal ; 28(3 Supplement):214-215, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-2138881


Background: Utilization of teleneurology for MS care rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain healthcare access. Disparities in telehealth use have been described in other health conditions, but not in a MS population. Objectives/Aims: To evaluate longitudinal utilization of teleneurology across age, race, geographic factors, and insurance categories to identify potential disparities in utilization at a single academic MS center (Cleveland Clinic). Method(s): MS patients attending a specialty clinic in Cleveland, a medium-sized city, who completed >=2 visits at least 24 months apart from 1/2019 to 6/2021 were studied. Patients with fully inperson care were compared to patients with <50% or >50% teleneurology care. Categories of age, race, geographic factors, and insurance were compared using Kruskal-Wallis tests and pairwise Wilcoxon rank sum tests with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Result(s): 892 patients met the inclusion criteria and completed 3710 visits during the study timeframe: mean age 49.1+/-11.7 years, 73.7% female, 85.6% white, median disease duration 11.2 years [0.15;60.3], and relapsing-remitting 62.3%. 37% patients were fully in-person, 37.2% patients had <50% teleneurology care, and 25.8% patients had >50% teleneurology care. There were no significant differences for race (white, black, other), insurance type (Medicare, Medicaid, private, non/other), area deprivation index (ADI), and residence location (rural vs metropolitan) in the use of teleneurology. Use of teleneurology care varied based by age, with older patients utilizing more in-person care. In person care was 23.4% for ages 18-39, 38.5% for ages 40-60, and 47.8% for those greater than 60 (p<0.001). Patients residing in greater Cleveland had significantly more in-person care (55.3%) compared to residents residing in Ohio outside of the greater Cleveland area (34.7%) and outside of Ohio (10.1%) (p=0.031). Conclusion(s): There were no significant differences in teleneurology utilization across race, insurance, ADI or rural vs metropolitan residence, suggesting it is a broadly accessible tool to overcome disparities in access to MS care. Utilization of teleneurology care for older and local patients was lower, which may be due to decrease demand in these groups. Future studies should assess the optimal integration of teleneurology and in-person visits in MS management.