Telemedicine for new neurological outpatients: putting a randomized controlled trial in the context of everyday practice

J Telemed Telecare. 2002;8(5):270-3. doi: 10.1177/1357633X0200800505.


In a retrospective review, the telemedical management of 65 outpatients from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of telemedicine for non-urgent referrals to a consultant neurologist was compared with the management of 76 patients seen face to face in the same trial, with that of 150 outpatients seen in the neurology clinics of district general hospitals and with that of 102 neurological outpatients seen by general physicians. Outcome measures were the numbers of investigations and of patient reviews. The telemedicine group did not differ significantly from the 150 patients seen face to face by neurologists in hospital clinics in terms of either the number of investigations or the number of reviews they received. Patients from the RCT seen face to face had significantly fewer investigations but a similar number of reviews to the other 150 patients seen face to face by neurologists (the disparity in the number of investigations may explain the negative result for telemedicine in that RCT). Patients with neurological symptoms assessed by general physicians had significantly more investigations and were reviewed significantly more often than all the other groups. Patients from the RCT seen by telemedicine were not managed significantly differently from those seen face to face by neurologists in hospital clinics but had significantly fewer investigations and follow-ups than those patients managed by general physicians. The results suggest that management of new neurological outpatients by neurologists using telemedicine is similar to that by neurologists using a face-to-face consultation, and is more efficient than management by general physicians.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / standards*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Remote Consultation / standards*
  • Retrospective Studies