Objective: To review current literature on neurology telemedicine and to discuss its application to patient care, neurology practice, military medicine, and current federal policy.
Methods: Review of practice models and published literature on primary studies of the efficacy of neurology telemedicine.
Results: Teleneurology is of greatest benefit to populations with restricted access to general and subspecialty neurologic care in rural areas, those with limited mobility, and those deployed by the military. Through the use of real-time audio-visual interaction, imaging, and store-and-forward systems, a greater proportion of neurologists are able to meet the demand for specialty care in underserved communities, decrease the response time for acute stroke assessment, and expand the collaboration between primary care physicians, neurologists, and other disciplines. The American Stroke Association has developed a defined policy on teleneurology, and the American Academy of Neurology and federal health care policy are beginning to follow suit.
Conclusions: Teleneurology is an effective tool for the rapid evaluation of patients in remote locations requiring neurologic care. These underserved locations include geographically isolated rural areas as well as urban cores with insufficient available neurology specialists. With this technology, neurologists will be better able to meet the burgeoning demand for access to neurologic care in an era of declining availability. An increase in physician awareness and support at the federal and state level is necessary to facilitate expansion of telemedicine into further areas of neurology.