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J Mov Disord ; 14(2): 119-125, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1136663

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Telemedicine has rapidly gained momentum in movement disorder neurology during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to preserve clinical care while mitigating the risks of in-person visits. We present data from the rapid implementation of virtual visits in a large, academic, movement disorder practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We describe the strategic shift to virtual visits and retrospectively examine elements that impacted the ability to switch to telemedicine visits using historical prepandemic in-person data as a comparator, including demographics, distance driven, and diagnosis distribution, with an additional focus on patients with deep brain stimulators. RESULTS: A total of 686 telemedicine visits were performed over a five-week period (60% of those previously scheduled for in-office visits). The average age of participants was 65 years, 45% were female, and 73% were Caucasian. Men were more likely to make the transition (p = 0.02). Telemedicine patients lived farther from the clinic than those seen in person (66.47 km vs. 42.16 km, p < 0.001), age was not associated with making the switch, and patient satisfaction did not change. There was a significant shift in the distribution of movement disorder diagnoses seen by telemedicine compared to prepandemic in-person visits (p < 0.001). Patients with deep brain stimulators were more likely to use telemedicine (11.5% vs. 7%, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Telemedicine is feasible, viable and relevant in the care of movement disorder patients, although health care disparities appear evident for women and minorities. Patients with deep brain stimulators preferred telemedicine in our study. Further study is warranted to explore these findings.

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