Objective: To summarize results of telemedicine evaluations of speech and language disorders in patients in a small, rural hospital and in large multidisciplinary medical practices.
Materials and methods: Eight patients underwent assessment as part of experiments with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-launched Advanced Communications Technology Satellite. A second clinician was on-site with patients to assess the reliability of satellite observations. Twenty-four previously videotaped samples of speech disorders were also transmitted to assess agreement with original face-to-face clinical diagnoses. In addition, results of 150 telemedicine evaluations among Mayo Clinic practices in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida were examined retrospectively.
Results: Evaluations were reliable, and patient satisfaction was good. Diagnoses were consistent with lesion localization and medical diagnosis when they were known, and they frequently had implications for lesion localization and medical diagnosis and management when they were previously unknown. The frequency of uncertain diagnosis (13%) for evaluation among the Mayo practices was only slightly higher than that encountered in face-to-face practice. Face-to-face evaluations were considered necessary for only 6 of the 150 patients (4%).
Conclusion: Telemedicine evaluations can be reliable, beneficial, and acceptable to patients with a variety of acquired speech and language disorders, both in rural settings and within large multidisciplinary medical settings.