Visits of concern in child neurology telemedicine

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2022 May 5. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.15256. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Aim: To characterize child neurology telemedicine visits flagged as requiring in-person evaluation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: We analyzed 7130 audio-video telemedicine visits between March and November 2020. Visits of concern (VOCs) were defined as telemedicine visits where the clinical scenario necessitated in-person follow-up evaluation sooner than if the visit had been conducted in-person.

Results: VOCs occurred in 5% (333/7130) of visits for 292 individuals (148 females, 144 males). Providers noted technical challenges more often in VOCs (40%; 133/333) than visits without concern (non-VOCs) (28%; 1922/6797) (p < 0.05). The median age was younger in VOCs (9 years 3 months, interquartile range [IQR] 2 years 0 months-14 years 3 months) than non-VOCs (11 years 3 months, IQR 5 years 10 months-15 years 10 months) (p < 0.05). Median household income was lower for patients with VOCs ($74 K, IQR $55 K-$97 K) compared to non-VOCs ($80 K, IQR $61 K-$100 K) (p < 0.05). Compared with all other race categories, families who self-identified as Black were more likely to have a VOC (odds ratio 1.53, 95% confidence interval 1.21-2.06). Epilepsy and headache represented the highest percentages of VOCs, while neuromuscular disorders and developmental delay had a higher proportion of VOCs than other neurological disorders.

Interpretation: These findings suggest that telemedicine is an effective platform for most child neurology visits. Younger children and those with neuromuscular disorders or developmental delays are more likely to require in-person evaluation.