What is teleNeurology?
TeleNeurology is a branch of telemedicine that allows neurological experts to see patients remotely by videoconference to supplement or replace in-person neurological care. This helps patients get the care they need while reducing crucial waiting times.
TeleNeurology began as telestroke
Telestroke was one of the first uses of teleNeurology, and remains one of the foundational and most requested neurologic services overall. See how it works in this video:
TeleNeurology is more than just telestroke
Despite its beginnings, teleNeurology involves more than just telestroke. TeleNeurology allows hospitals to have access to neurology “superspecialists” for follow up care for post-stroke patients, as well as other inpatient services. This can help hospitals retain patients for inpatient care. Without access to a teleNeurologist, the hospital would need to transfer the patient, which is inconvenient for the patient and family.
Many hospitals have expanded their service requests to include non-stroke patients such as those with epilepsy, movement disorders, and encephalopathy. TeleNeurology sometimes includes further ancillary services, such as remote EEG readings and interpretation of images.
Providing Neurology subspecialties via teleNeurology
Neurologists frequently sub-specialize following a residency in the fields of cognitive care, movement disorders, epilepsy, and several others. However, it’s often difficult to build a subspecialty practice that only services a specific disease state. Thus, neurologists typically build a practice as a generalist who also has a focus on some sub-specialty.
TeleNeurologists can practice across several hundred hospitals and rapidly build a population of disease-specific patients that can support their preferred sub-specialty practice. Hospitals can then have access, not just to a general neurologist, but to subspecialists with deep and focused expertise. The evolution and growth of telemedicine networks now allow us to supply a population of disease-specific patients to support the use of fellowship-trained specialists in an effective and affordable way that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Like other branches of telemedicine, teleNeurology provides many benefits to patients and providers, including:
- Access to ‘superspecialists’ for follow-up care
- Increased patient volume and hospital revenue
- Elimination of EMS bypass due to lack of neurology coverage
- Improved patient retention
- Increased neurological admissions
- Improved efficiency and standardization
- Decreased average length of hospital stay
TeleNeurology in the Future
Soon, hospitals may have access to other neurology specialists via telemedicine: a virtual epileptologist to see a patient with recurrent seizures, a movement disorder specialist to see a patient with poorly defined involuntary movements, as well as a stroke expert. The end result is that hospitals will be able to provide the highest level of expertise and care, at the right time, to the right patient on a national level through teleNeurology.
TeleNeurology has evolved significantly to help hospitals provide better care to patients and to increase overall hospital revenue. By incorporating teleNeurology into a hospital’s scope of care, it gains immediate access to a broader range of subspecialties, expands its patient capacity, and ultimately, saves more lives.