Telemedicine in Leading US Neurology Departments

Neurohospitalist. 2012 Oct;2(4):123-8. doi: 10.1177/1941874412450716.


Objective: To determine the current practice and plans for telemedicine at leading US neurology departments.

Design and setting: An electronic survey was sent to department chairs, administrators, or faculty involved in telemedicine at 47 neurology departments representing the top 50 hospitals as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

Main outcome measures: Current use, size, scope, reimbursement, and perceived quality of telemedicine services.

Results: A total of 32 individuals from 30 departments responded (64% response rate). The primary respondents were neurology faculty (66%) and department chairs (22%). Of the responding departments, 60% (18 of 30) currently provide telemedicine and most (n = 12) had initiated services within the last 2 years. Two thirds of those not providing telemedicine plan to do so within a year. Departments provide services to patients in state, out of state, and internationally, but only 6 departments had more than 50 consultations in the last year. The principal applications were stroke (n = 14), movement disorders (n = 4), and neurocritical care (n = 3). Most departments (n = 12) received external funding for telemedicine services, but few departments (n = 3) received payment from insurers (eg, Medicare, Medicaid). Reimbursement (n = 21) was the most frequently identified barrier to implementing telemedicine services. The majority of respondents (n = 20) find telemedicine to be equivalent to in-person care.

Conclusions: Over 85% of leading US neurology departments currently use or plan to implement telemedicine within the next year. Addressing reimbursement may allow for its broader application.

Keywords: telehealth; telemedicine; teleneurology.